PHOENIX (AP) _ With Phoenix trailing San Antonio two games to none, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni is trying to figure out what needs to change in Game 3 of the Western Conference playoff series.
"I can't tell you that," D'Antoni said. "How about we just play better?"
The Suns played well enough to build double-digit leads in each of the first two games but couldn't close the deal either time. In Game 1, San Antonio needed two late 3-pointers as it rallied for a 117-115 double-overtime victory. In Game 2, the Spurs blitzed Phoenix 27-11 in the third quarter on their way to a decisive 102-96 victory.
The losses have left the Suns in a familiar position _ fighting back against San Antonio, which has eliminated them in three of the Suns' last four postseason appearances. In the teams' last three series, the Suns have led the Spurs only once _ after Game 1 in 2003.
The Suns have overcome an 0-2 playoff deficit only once _ in a best-of-five series against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1993.
Both teams took Wednesday off and were not available to the media. Before they left San Antonio, the Suns vowed to make a stand when the series resumes on Friday night at US Airways Center.
"They just did what they were supposed to do," center Shaquille O'Neal said after San Antonio's Game 2 victory on Tuesday night. "They protected their home court. Now we have two at our place. On Friday we've got to get Game 3 and just take it from there."
For their part, the Spurs aren't looking ahead to the second round. They can remember blowing a 2-0 lead _ and homecourt advantage _ against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals.
"It's a series all the way through," San Antonio forward Tim Duncan said. "I don't think anyone on our team expects to go 4-0. This Game 3 is big for them. They really pushed us when they were on the road. We respect them."
The Suns acquired O'Neal, a four-time NBA champion, specifically to combat Duncan and the Spurs' powerful inside game. So far, the move hasn't paid off.
The Suns have held their own on the backboards, with San Antonio outrebounding them by only four in the first two games. But the Spurs have outscored the Suns in the paint 128-88, and Duncan has been virtually unstoppable.
He is averaging 29 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in the first two games.
O'Neal has nearly as many fouls (9) as field goals (11), although he made 7 of 14 shots from the line in Game 2 and hit 5-of-6 when San Antonio went to the "hack-a-Shaq" ploy in the third period.
"I think he made the strategy look stupid," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
During the regular season, O'Neal's presence allowed All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire to roam without being double-teamed. Stoudemire has scored 33 points in each of the first two games. But he made only 2 of 11 shots from the floor after halftime in Game 2, when the Spurs took command.
"They threw out different guys at me," Stoudemire said. "And they did a pretty good job in the second half. I still had easy looks, just didn't quite make them. But with all that said, we still had a chance to win."
Suns point guard Nash said the Suns "lost our composure a little bit" on Tuesday night. But he said the team remains confident as it returns to the desert.
"We'll feel good about going into Game 3," he said. "In the playoffs, one win can change the momentum. So we just have to come out and protect homecourt."
When the series resumes after a two-day break, the Spurs plan to keep exploiting Phoenix's often porous defense. Guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili kept getting to the rim in Game 2. Parker scored 32 points and Ginobili had 29.
"Before the series (Popovich) talked to me about attacking Nash and being aggressive and putting pressure on their defense, on their bigs, Stoudemire and Shaq," Parker said. "I think the main thing is me being aggressive and Pop calling more plays for me."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.