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A shame that Western finals already over

Spurs likely to now sweep entertaining series vs. Suns

It's a shame there likely will be only four games of the Suns playing the Spurs. It's a shame we're not going to see Steve Nash vs. Tony Parker for six or seven games, that we're probably not going to see Nash dropping perfect passes on Amare Stoudemire after the Memorial Day weekend. It's a pity we're not going to see those end-to-end rushes, with Parker and Manu Ginobili flying one way and Shawn Marion and Quentin Richardson tearing the other.

It's a shame because this Western Conference finals series is fabulously entertaining. Game 2, from the opening tip to Nash's missed three-pointer at the buzzer, was delicious to the last drop. Overtime would have been so fitting. More would definitely be better.

Yes, San Antonio vs. Detroit has the makings of a wonderful championship series, but it won't look and feel like this, like a basketball party. It won't have teams combining for 219 points and offense so explosive. It's a shame we won't be treated to the Suns-Spurs through the first few days of June, because it's probably going to end in San Antonio, after four measly games, with the Spurs winning in a sweep.

That's the only thing to conclude after the first two games here at America West Arena. The Suns are really, really good. Nash has demonstrated play after play that he is the MVP of the NBA. The Suns are the team we all want to watch every night.

But the Spurs are better. You get the feeling that if they played 10 times the Spurs would win nine, each one of them by draining shots in the fourth quarter. Robert Horry would hit a three. Ginobili would go behind his back between two defenders and throw it down. Parker would hit that running floater. Tim Duncan would bank it off the glass or hit that flip hook. Goodness, San Antonio is smooth and polished. The Spurs have more good players. Those players have big-game experience. And they're convinced to their very core that they're better than the Suns. And they're right.

San Antonio's 111-108 victory over Phoenix in Game 2 was a treat, a game full of running and passing, shooting and defending, skill and passion on display. It was contentious but clean, desperate and daring. The great players were sublime. Nash had 29 points and 15 assists and played his heart out. So did Stoudemire, who followed up a 41-point game Sunday with 37 in Game 2. So did Duncan, who had 30 points and eight rebounds despite foul trouble. So did Parker and Ginobili who had 24 and 26 points, respectively.

You want offense? There was plenty of it in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Suns shot 56 percent while the Spurs shot 51 .The offense was even more astounding because of the way the teams fought each other for every possession over 94 feet. Look deep in the box score, and there was Old Man Horry hitting 3 of 4 three-pointers, including the one that put San Antonio ahead for good at 103-102. There was Nash playing 46 minutes. There was Phoenix, perhaps to its detriment, playing essentially only six men. There was Marion grabbing 12 rebounds but scoring only 11 points against the irritatingly effective Bruce Bowen.

What do you say when you've lost two tight games at home to the champs once-removed? "We played pretty well tonight," Nash said. "They made some phenomenal shots in the fourth quarter. At some point, you've just got to congratulate them."

That point, sadly for those of us riveted for two games, is coming sooner rather than later.

The Suns, heartbroken, could possibly win a game in Texas but the Spurs know how good Phoenix is. The Spurs don't want to come back to the Valley of the Sun. They don't want this series to go any longer than it has to, lest Nash find some way to play even better than he has, which is unthinkable, and find a way to change the series. Nope, this thing is all but done and the Spurs have too many experienced guys with the proper sense of urgency to let it drag on one minute longer than it has to.

An hour before Game 2, Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni used the phrase "little bit more of a dire situation" to describe his team's predicament. Nobody figures to win two straight playoff games in San Antonio, what with the Spurs having gone 38-3 at home during the regular season. It wasn't just one game the Suns had lost on Sunday. They'd lost a chance to hammer the Spurs with Duncan diminished by a badly sprained ankle. And in doing so, the Suns lost home-court advantage and lost control of the series. It's something they won't get back, not down 0-2 with three games looming in San Antonio.

So they were in a pickle by Tuesday night. Marion and Richardson had to be wondering whether they could recapture their individual games in time to even the series. And the Suns had to hope Stoudemire and Nash could be great again in Game 2.

Plus, San Antonio brought in additional help.

Eva Longoria.

The hottest Desperate Housewife dates Tony Parker. She's a sports nut. Loves the Spurs. Now she's showing Parker a little love. Who could have a better life than Parker? He gets to throw the ball to Duncan. He speaks French (okay, he is French) and he's dating Longoria. It should surprise nobody that Parker was ablaze to start the game and hit the floater that put San Antonio ahead 26-13. Parker, the little show-off, was everywhere in that opening quarter.

So, however, was Nash. At the half, Nash had hit 8 of 9 shots. By the end of three quarters, Nash had more than made up for his four early turnovers, with 22 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds.

When the Suns were down 38-27 and gasping for life, Nash hit a three-pointer, Nash hit another jumper, and Nash found Stoudemire with a perfect pass for the basket that tied the game at 38.

Nash ran every possession on offense and guarded Parker on defense. He threw a left-handed, wrap-around pass to Stoudemire for a layup with three minutes to play that pulled the Suns within a single point at 100-99. And for a moment, the Suns were ahead, of course on a Nash three-pointer with just under three minutes to go.

But Horry did what Horry almost always does. He hit a three-pointer of his own. And Ginobili did what he did all summer in the Athens Olympic competition for Argentina: He scored, rebounded, defended. Never in the conference finals has a team ever come back from losing the first two at home. While these two teams produce extraordinary basketball, there's nothing in San Antonio's nature that would suggest this series will also be historic.