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It didn't matter what the Phoenix Suns did in the mid-2000s, they could never beat the San Antonio Spurs. Forget that they had two-time MVP Steve Nash running devastating pick and rolls with a pre-surgically repaired Amare Stoudamire. Forget that just about everyone on the Suns roster could knock down the three-ball, from Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson to Shawn Marion to Raja Bell. All of the team's efforts ended in failure. The Spurs dispatched the woebegotten Suns from the Playoffs in 2003 and 2005, and they did it again in 2008. But in 2007, things felt different.
The Suns were seconds away from stealing Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals in San Antonio and knotting the series at 2 games apiece, with a chance to head back home and grab a 3-2 lead, when Robert Horry changed the entire complexion of the series. With 20 seconds left and the Suns up 3, the Spurs, as teams usually do in these situations, needed to intentionally foul a member of the Suns to stop the clock. As Steve Nash took the inbounds pass and began to streak down the sideline, Horry turned his hip into Nash, sending the small Canadian flying into the scorer's table. The Suns bench erupted. Stoudamire and Boris Diaw shot of out their respective seats and stomped onto the court, incensed. In the ensuing skirmish, the series effectively ended.
In a highly controversial ruling, the NBA suspended Stoudamire and Diaw, two integral parts of the Suns offense, one game each for "leaving the immediate vicinity of the bench." Their absence was glaring in Game 5, as the Suns were able to muster only 85 points and lost the game by three. Deflated, the Suns went on to lose Game 6, thus ending the series. What would have been if Stoudamire and Diaw had stayed in their seats?
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