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Suns feeling the heat Spurs go home with 2-game lead

PHOENIX -- What the San Antonio Spurs are doing to the Phoenix Suns could be described as a rite of passage. To Phoenix, it feels more like hazing.

The Suns have taken decent leads into the fourth quarter of the first two games of the Western Conference finals, then made more than half their shots the rest of the way -- and lost both times.

With a roster filled with former NBA champions, the Spurs have shot even better down the stretch. They've made clutch plays while preventing Phoenix's playoff novices from doing the same, earning a 2-0 lead with the series headed to San Antonio.

''They're a veteran team," lamented Suns star Amare Stoudemire. ''They've been there, done that."

It's called experience, and the Spurs are loaded with it.

The biggest shots in their 111-108 victory in Game 2 Tuesday night came from Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili. Horry has won five championships, the most among active players. Ginobili has one, plus played for titles in Italy and internationally for Argentina's national team.

San Antonio also got fourth-quarter boosts from Tim Duncan, the MVP of both NBA Finals he's been in, and Tony Parker, a starter on a championship team two years ago when he was just 21.

Among Phoenix's regulars, only MVP Steve Nash and Jim Jackson have ever gotten this far, and neither has made it to the Finals.

''We're doing a really good job finishing games this series," Duncan said. ''That's through having guys like Rob and Tony who have been through it . . . We understand that we want to get a good possession every time."

How's this for taking quality shots: The Spurs made 16 of 22 in the final period of Game 1, turning a 6-point deficit into a 7-point win. In Game 2, they trailed by 5, then made 12 of 17 to win by 3 -- even though the Suns hit 52 percent in the fourth quarter and 56 percent for the game, tops against San Antonio this postseason.

''At some point, you have to say they deserved to win," Nash said. ''Our guys, I thought, handled themselves well, we just didn't make the plays that they made . . . We just have to stay positive and hungry and go out there and give ourselves a chance again."

The Suns had one Tuesday night.

After Ginobili made one of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left, Nash took the inbounds pass and hurried for the best 3-pointer he could get to try forcing overtime. He did it last Saturday night against Dallas, but this one was much tougher. The Spurs defended it well, forcing Nash to ''try to get something to the rim and see if it would get in."

It didn't, leaving Phoenix with its first consecutive losses since early April.

Both teams didn't practice yesterday.

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