SAN ANTONIO, June 15 -- Over the course of less than two minutes in the final period of Game 6, three firsts sealed the championship for the Spurs.
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Three three-pointers by Stephen Jackson keyed San Antonio's fourth quarter comeback.
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At the 7:11 mark, Stephen Jackson
, who had contributed a quiet eight points, knocked down San Antonio's first three-pointer of the game. The team had gone a collective 0-for-9 from beyond the arc to that point, but Jackson's timely trey pulled the Spurs to within two.
At the 6:34 mark, Jackson hit his second consecutive three-pointer to give the Spurs their first lead of the game, 73-72. They had trailed by as many as 12 points and were down by eight to open the fourth quarter.
And at the 5:44 mark, Lucious Harris recorded New Jersey's first missed free throw of the game. The Nets were a perfect 11-for-11 when Harris stepped to the line with the chance to cut the Spurs' lead to one after getting fouled by Emanuel Ginobili. However, his first attempt bounced out, as did his second, and the Nets unraveled. San Antonio scored seven more unanswered points -- including another three by Jackson -- to complete a 19-0 run.
Until then, New Jersey had controlled the game, running the floor more than they had all series and answering every San Antonio rally with a run of their own. For three quarters, it appeared the Nets would force a Game 7.
"I thought this was the most poise we've shown all season long," said Finals MVP Tim Duncan, who was just two blocks shy of a quadruple-double. "And it's great working up to this point and having the pitfalls that we've had throughout these playoffs, then to put a game together like we did today, where we're down the entire game but we just keep playing, it didn't matter what happened, guys kept playing, guys were confident. We were all confident that something would happen, that we would turn the game to our favor, and it did."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich explained that the team simply got the right mix of players on the floor in the fourth.
"We did make quite a few changes trying to find somebody that would knock down a shot and balance what we were doing underneath with Tim and David [Robinson]," he said.
Indeed, alongside Duncan, Robinson and Jackson, Popovich elected to go with two Spurs reserves, Ginobili and Speedy Claxton, for the entire fourth quarter, as starters Bruce Bowen (two points) and Tony Parker (four points) watched from the bench. The backup duo responded, combining for 11 points and five boards in the period.
Said Popovich, "Manu was always going to make a steal, get a rebound, do something to help you win a basketball game. I thought Speedy was wonderful tonight. He did himself proud, and came into the game and was solid for a very long time and really got us over the hump, kept us together."
In the end, though, the night belonged to Robinson. In the final game of his Hall of Fame career, the Spurs center played 31 minutes, contributing 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbing 17 rebounds, seven of those boards coming in the decisive fourth quarter.
"I'm just thrilled that David ends his career with a game like that," said Popovich. "His effort was really wonderful. He really dug down deep and showed how important it was to him to help us get this victory tonight."
"I just knew I wanted to make an impact in this game," said the Admiral. "Actually, to be honest with you, coming into the game, I was thinking, 'I almost don't want to do too much.' When I have a pretty decent game, we don't win."
"I've had some ups and downs in my career," he added. "But I'm gonna end on the highest of highs."
Duncan, who has played alongside Robinson since entering the league in 1997, described his last moments on the floor with his longtime teammate.
"For a second there on the court, the last couple seconds, I really thought, 'You know what, I'm not gonna play with this guy again. I'm gonna have to come out on this court without him. It's gonna be weird.' I don't know what to expect."
Tim Duncan without David Robinson.