Rose scores 27 points to lead Spurs to Game 5 win


SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The question the San Antonio Spurs have to be
asking themselves: Is no lead safe against the Phoenix Suns?

The Spurs opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter, built
it to 24 by halftime and then had to hang on to defeat Phoenix
94-82 Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven
playoff series.

The Suns, who erased big leads in their victories in Games 1 and
4, made the second half compelling. They opened the third quarter
with a 19-5 run that trimmed San Antonio's advantage to 59-49, but
the Spurs put together a string of baskets to restore their lead to
19 by the end of the quarter.

Phoenix charged again in the fourth quarter, pulling within six,
85-79, with 1:49 to play on a drive by Stephon Marbury, but the
Spurs hit their foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.

"We came out with energy in the second half,'' said Shawn
Marion, who led the Suns with 22 points. "We closed the gap real
close. We just couldn't get over the hump.''

Tim Duncan made all six of his foul shots in the final minute.

"We knew they were going to make some kind of run,'' Duncan
said. "But we kept our composure and sustained throughout.''

Reserve Malik Rose led the Spurs with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Duncan added 23 points and 17 rebounds.

Led by Rose, San Antonio's bench outscored the Phoenix reserves,

"When our bench plays that strong, it means we're really
passing the ball well,'' said David Robinson, who scored 10 points
and had nine rebounds.

Game 6 will be Thursday night in Phoenix.

San Antonio's energetic defense took away the inside in the
first half, limiting the Suns to 10 field goals in the first two
periods. Marbury was 0-for-7 from the field.

"I didn't really have my strength, the way I normally have
it,'' said Marbury, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury that
makes his right arm numb.

Phoenix missed its first four shots before an alley-oop dunk by
Marion three minutes into the game, then missed its next five

A tip-in by Duncan gave San Antonio a 23-13 lead with a minute
left in the first period, and a putback by Robinson with 7:16
remaining in the second quarter pushed the Spurs' lead to 38-18.

"It was really a clinic,'' Robinson said of his team's
execution in the first half. "We moved the ball around, we went
high-low. We went baseline. We had the size and we just started
taking it.''

The Suns never found an offensive rhythm in the half. As a team,
they shot 4-for-22 in the first quarter and 6-for-16 in the second.
Phoenix was outrebounded in the half, 31-11, but the Suns grabbed
more rebounds in the second half.

Marbury, who had his way with San Antonio in the first four
games, scored his first basket with 9:16 left in the third

Game notes
The Spurs have had the stingiest defense of the 16 playoff
teams, holding the Suns to an average of 85.2 points in the five
games. ... Before the opening tip, NBA deputy commissioner Russ
Granik presented San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich with the Red
Auerbach Trophy for being the NBA's coach of the year. ... The
Spurs' Stephen Jackson strained a tendon in his right ankle and did
not play in the second half. ... Suns' coach Frank Johnson was hit
with a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing with
referee Sean Corbin.