Bonner’s dunk sparks division-clinching win
By Jeff McDonald
Matt Bonner's rare dunk prompted much good-natured kidding in the Spurs' locker room after the game. (Express-News photo/Billy Caldaza)
The Red Sea opened up for the Red Rocket in the second quarter Saturday against Phoenix, and Matt Bonner suddenly found himself contemplating options he should never be permitted to contemplate.
“I couldn’t decide between the windmill or the 360,” Bonner said after the Spurs’ easy-does-it 105-91 victory over the erstwhile surging Suns. “I ended up going with the one-handed power slam.”
As a dunker, it turns out, Bonner remains a pretty good 3-point shooter.
Despite Bonner’s postgame protests to the contrary — “I bruised my elbow on the rim!” — certain KIA-hopping All-Stars needn’t lose sleep. Bonner’s jam won’t be soon showing up on best-selling NBA posters, or a national car commercial, any time soon.
“There’s Blake Griffin,” Tim Duncan deapanned. “And then there’s Matt Bonner.”
The Spurs’ chase for the top seed in the Western Conference rolled on Saturday, with a resounding victory over a Suns team scrapping for its playoff life that was rarely as close as the final score showed.
With it, the Spurs (42-16) sewed up the Southwest Division and locked down home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Behind another throwback night from Duncan, who had 13 of his 19 points in a 6-for-8 first quarter, the Spurs burst to a 21-4 lead and kept the accelerator pressed to the floorboard.
Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard each added 14 points for the Spurs, who led by as many as 28 points before turning the night over to the bench.
“Sometimes it’s your worst nightmare to jump to a big lead at the beginning of an NBA game,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team earned the 18th division crown in franchise history and ninth of his tenure. “I thought they focused well and did a good job.”
Duncan set the tone, starting 5 of 5, scoring on Suns center Marcin Gortat inside and out. His early flurry cost Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry two timeouts.
After the first, Suns begin double-teaming Duncan. He responded by finding Leonard for a 3-pointer to cap a 14-0 run for the Spurs.
By end of first quarter, Duncan had scored a baker’s dozen, matching Phoenix tally for tally, and the Spurs led by 35-13. Then, on the Spurs’ first possession of the second quarter, Bonner collected a loose ball on the right arc, lowered his head and — ahem — exploded for an uncontested dunk.
It was his only field goal of the game.
“It’s a new attitude,” said Bonner, better known as a 6-foot-10 3-point marksman. “I’m trying to usher in a new excitement here on the Spurs. Dunks, alley oops, you name it.”
The Spurs still seem to be faring quite well with the old attitude.
Before the game, Popovich compared the ageless production of the 35-year-old Duncan and Steve Nash, the Suns’ 38-year-old point guard, in vinter’s terms.
“They’re like fine wine,” Popovich said.
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Ha Ha Bonner is one of a kind...
He is very unique in every way that is for sure!!!!!
Hope this year he will have a breakout year in the PO and explode with good shots and dunks that are nothing but the net!!!
WOW So fired up and Charged up for this Year 2015! Lets do this again! GSG!
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