How many different ways can the Spurs own the Suns?

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The Suns have won their fair share of regular season games against the Spurs over the past five years. It’s not like they’ve never won against the Spurs. It just feels like it.

Jason Richardson missed a wide-open (and I mean WIDE OPEN) breakaway dunk to tie, and Steve Nash randomly passed up on a tying three pointer with no time left and the Spurs once again topped the Suns in a late season game’, 113-110.

Richardson, a two-time dunk champion, looked stunned even as he was coming down as his one-handed attempt rimmed out and fell to the waiting arms of the Spurs. The Suns needed a steal, got one by doubling and rotating effectively (not something they do terribly well), then got the outlet to Jason Richardson, who went up, and just… missed.

Now, he could have put two hands on the ball. Players miss dunks all the time. A perfect dunk doesn’t even touch rim. But seriously. A two-time dunk champion, and one of the better players in the league misses a wide-open, break-away dunk to tie? How does that happen?

It’s Suns-Spurs. Obviously.

This is the same rivalry that’s featured Steve Nash being kept out of the final minutes of a playoff game because of a nosebleed caused by accidental contact that couldn’t be stopped. The same perennial battle that’s seen Tim Duncan hit his first three pointer of the 2008 season to win a playoff game.

No matter what happens, the result is always the same in the ones that seem to matter the most. You have to wonder if there’s some sort of greater force at work. No matter how unlikely the event needed, they seem to occur , and they always seem to fall against the Suns. Even this year’s Spurs team, which is far from the dominant squad it was at the height of this rivalry, somehow finds a way to topple Amaré Stoudemires 41 and 12.

Nash’s dish was just as inexplicable. After the pass, Nash seemed to be frustrated at something Channing Frye failed to do. Whether it was drifting closer to Nash to have time for the shot, or drifting to the perimeter for the range they needed to tie, Frye did neither, and the time expired.

Nash had a wide open shot, after nailing one to give them an opportunity to tie, and passed it up. How does that occur?

Meanwhile for the Spurs, a great overall game that maybe they can use as the better-late-than-never game to turn the tide on this season.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.