Fighting Words

Amare Stoudemire's accusation that the Spurs are a ``dirty team'' should really fire up the already rugged playoff series between Phoenix and San Antonio.

Shouldn't it?

Well, it didn't appear to do much for the Spurs, who had their first chance Friday to respond to Stoudemire's comments and mostly said they weren't all that bothered.

Oddsmakers have made San Antonio -4 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 202.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Phoenix +4 (View NBA Bet Percentages).


``He can continue to give us fuel if he wants to, but honestly we're not going to play any harder or any less because of what anybody says,'' Tim Duncan said. ``For whatever reason, I guess people don't expect people to play hard. It's not the regular season. We're not going to let people walk through us.''

On Thursday, Stoudemire said Bruce Bowen tried to hurt him during the Suns' 101-81 series-evening victory in Game 2 on Tuesday. He also called out Manu Ginobili and blasted the entire team as ``dirty.''

``It was a purpose kick to the Achilles' and he definitely tried to injure me,'' Stoudemire said of Bowen.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the whole situation ``irrelevant.''

``I saw the replay and it's obvious I did clip him, but to kick him, that wasn't the intention at all,'' Bowen said. ``It was an unfortunate situation and I'm sorry that he feels that way. ... I have a lot of respect for him, so I wouldn't do that.''

Stoudemire stood by his remarks Friday.

``My comments were made and they were positive comments,'' he said. ``There was no negativity and no bad gestures toward players. Just being honest, and I'm done with it.''

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said Stoudemire was just saying what he felt. Stoudemire said he did not talk to the league and Bowen said he hadn't, either.

``Whether it's right or wrong, that's for you guys to discuss,'' D'Antoni said. ``But I listened to the comment. I don't think it was bad.''

Ginobili said he was surprised to be singled out by the Suns' center, who along with Phoenix's Steve Nash and Duncan were selected to the all-NBA first team Thursday. Stoudemire said Ginobili kneed him on purpose during the regular season.

``It's a team thing, you don't want to leave Bruce alone all the time,'' Ginobili joked, referring to past accusations against Bowen. ``We try to play hard; I don't think anybody's dirty. I don't know why he said it but I really don't have anything to say about it.''

Saturday's Game 3 is sure to be rife with tension, at least for San Antonio fans, who will surely be riled up. But the Spurs said they're more concerned about making a few adjustments and getting Ginobili, who has had a subpar series thus far, involved.

Ginobili has averaged 11.6 points during the playoffs, down from 16.5 during the regular season. He scored just six points in Tuesday's loss and eight in the Spurs' Game 1 victory in Phoenix. Ginobili torched Phoenix for career highs of 48 points and 16 made field goals in a game in January 2005.

``I'm not making the shots, first, and then of course they're playing good 'D,''' Ginobili said. ``I didn't play good the first two games, my shots were not looking good, so of course the confidence was not there. But as I said before, I just try to forget about it and play a more relaxed game.''

And Ginobili's teammates are confident they'll get what they need from him.

``We're not worried about Manu. It's not a ceremony to revive him, so to speak,'' Bowen said Thursday. ``We understand he's going to play well, he's going to do all right.''

The teams have had three days off, and neither practiced on Wednesday. The Suns said they know what to expect coming to San Antonio, and even if they don't return home up 3-1, they don't want to head back to Arizona on the brink of elimination.

``They're going to pull out all the stops to win these two,'' D'Antoni said. ``We need to get at least one. Should be a great battle.''

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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