Elephant Slayer

Napolitano deftly played politics this legislative session to fend off all GOP foes

It's now time to demand the same level of competence from state legislators.


NBA playoff basketball comes at you fast.

Lately, the governor's veto pen is the check that balances.
Mike Maas
Lately, the governor's veto pen is the check that balances.

Within 48 hours of the Phoenix Suns' thrilling overtime victory against the Dallas Mavericks that clinched a spot in the Western Conference finals, the Suns were crushed by the one thing this young and exciting team is missing -- a dominant big man.

The San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan didn't score the most points in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at America West Arena. Suns center/forward Amaré Stoudemire did, with 41.

But Duncan was the dominant force in the Spurs' explosive fourth quarter as San Antonio poured in 43 points to shut down the Suns 121-114.

The Suns tried to slow Duncan with extra defenders. But he was unflappable, passing the ball to open teammates who punished with Suns with deadly outside shooting.

The Suns must find a way to contain Duncan -- the team can't stop him. And the Suns must play near-perfect basketball elsewhere on the court or this series could turn into a rout.

"Tim puts so much pressure on our defense, whether it's in the box score or not," Suns playmaker Steve Nash said at a postgame press conference that I attended.

As this column goes to press, the Suns are preparing to play the second game of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night -- a game they must win if this youthful team is to have the momentum it needs to advance to the league championship round.

To reach the NBA Finals, the Suns will have to play with far more intensity than displayed in the last six minutes of Game 1.

"It's going to come down to how much heart we have and how hard we can play [for] 48 minutes," said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni.

I think the Suns have a stronger pulse than the Spurs and can do it.

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