SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have to be asking themselves if no lead is safe against the Phoenix Suns.
The Spurs opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter, pushed it to 24 by halftime and had to hang on to defeat Phoenix, 94-82, Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.
The Suns, who erased big leads in their victories in Games 1 and 4, made the second half compelling. They opened the third quarter with a 19-5 run that trimmed San Antonio's advantage to 59-49, but the Spurs put together a string of baskets to restore their lead to 19 by the end of the quarter.
Phoenix charged again in the fourth quarter, pulling within six, 85-79, with 1:49 to play on a drive by Stephon Marbury, but the Spurs hit their foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.
"We came out with energy in the second half," said Shawn Marion, who led the Suns with 22 points. "We closed the gap real close. We just couldn't get over the hump."
Tim Duncan made all six of his foul shots in the final minute.
"We knew they were going to make some kind of run," Duncan said. "But we kept our composure and sustained throughout."
Reserve Malik Rose led the Spurs with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Duncan added 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Led by Rose, San Antonio's bench outscored the Phoenix reserves, 42-17.
"When our bench plays that strong, it means we're really passing the ball well," said David Robinson, who scored 10 points and had nine rebounds.
Game 6 will be Thursday night in Phoenix.
San Antonio's energetic defense took away the inside in the first half, limiting the Suns to 10 field goals in the first two periods. Marbury was 0-for-7 from the field.
"I didn't really have my strength, the way I normally have it," said Marbury, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury that makes his right arm numb.
Phoenix missed its first four shots before an alley-oop dunk by Marion three minutes into the game, then missed its next five attempts.
A tip-in by Duncan gave San Antonio a 23-13 lead with a minute left in the first period, and a putback by Robinson with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter pushed the Spurs' lead to 38-18.
"It was really a clinic," Robinson said of his team's execution in the first half. "We moved the ball around. We went high-low. We went baseline. We had the size and we just started taking it."
The Suns never found an offensive rhythm in the half. As a team, they shot 4-for-22 in the first quarter and 6-for-16 in the second. Phoenix was outrebounded in the half, 31-11, but the Suns grabbed more rebounds in the second half.
Marbury, who had his way with San Antonio in the first four games, scored his first basket with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
Notes: The Spurs have had the stingiest defense of the 16 playoff teams, holding the Suns to an average of 85.2 points in the five games. ... Before the opening tip, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik presented San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich with the Red Auerbach Trophy for being the NBA's coach of the year. ... The Spurs' Stephen Jackson strained a tendon in his right ankle and did not play in the second half. ... Suns' coach Frank Johnson was hit with a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing with referee Sean Corbin.