SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The San Antonio Spurs mobbed Rudy Gay after his game-winning shot against Phoenix, but that celebration got a cold dose of reality once they hit the locker room.
Gay hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer and the Spurs overcame Devin Booker’s 38 points to escape with a 126-124 victory on Tuesday night, extending the Suns’ losing streak to nine games.
“We were really fortunate to win the game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
“I thought that they outplayed us, outcoached us, out-physicalled us, out-executed us. We had no respect for them or for the game. We didn’t play with each other. It was a pathetic performance, and Phoenix got robbed.”
The Suns lost their previous four games by an average of 23 points and were without top draft pick Deandre Ayton, but the Spurs needed a clutch shot at the buzzer to win.
“It’s a win,” Gay said. “I’m not happy about how it happened, but we got a win. That’s part of being a good team – you’ve got to find ways to get wins.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 14 rebounds for San Antonio, which is 2-0 on a four-game homestand despite playing without injured DeMar DeRozan. Gay finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Suns lost their 11th straight in San Antonio even as Booker matched his season high in points.
“Dropping nine straight and losing three or four to game-winners, you realise that you have to be locked in the whole game,” Booker said. “It’s not just the final shot.”
Phoenix tied this one with 19.6 seconds remaining. Booker stole a pass from Marco Belinelli and fed Josh Jackson for an uncontested dunk to make it 124-all.
With time winding down, Gay was isolated and pulled up off the dribble for a jumper over Kelly Oubre Jr on the left wing as the clock expired to help San Antonio avoid an upset.
“Salute to Rudy for hitting that,” Oubre said.
The Spurs entered allowing 109.7 points per game, 13th in the National Basketball Association (NBA), but struggled to contain the Suns. Phoenix had six players score in double figures, including 22 points by Jamal Crawford.
“We’re just not as physical as we were when we were really playing well,” said San Antonio point guard Derrick White, who had 15 points. “We have moments where we’re doing the right things but we haven’t been consistent with it.”
The Suns were 13 for 29 on three-pointers and shot 60 per cent from the field to turn a 12-point deficit in the third quarter into a near victory.
San Antonio went on a 14-2 run starting midway through the third in taking a 94-82 lead. Phoenix pulled to 96-95 early in the fourth, 106-105 halfway through the period and 119-118 with two minutes remaining.
“We just weathered the storm,” Crawford said. “They threw some haymakers at us and we didn’t fold. We showed some growth and continue to push forward. We gave ourselves a chance, that’s all you can ask for.”