Veteran lifts Spurs to overtime win
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 19 -- By most standards, Robert Horry has had an ordinary NBA career. He hasn't even started half his career total for games and he's only averaged double-figures in three of his 13 seasons.
Yet in a crucial Game 5 Sunday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, a game in which the momentum of The Finals was at stake, Horry showed why his career is defined by moments of brilliance.
"Big Shot Rob" -- he told the press after the contest, Rob, not Bob -- drilled the game-winning three-pointer with 5.8 seconds left in overtime to give San Antonio a 96-95 victory over Detroit. On that play, which was originally intended to be a pick and roll between Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, Horry's defender, Rasheed Wallace, trapped Ginobili in the corner after Horry fed him an inbounds pass.
The double-team forced Ginobili to kick the ball back to an unguarded Horry.
"I just got the ball back and since I was shooting well I wanted to let it fly," Horry said. "I'm the type of player. I want to win a game. I don't want to go to overtime. I'm always going to go for a three."
According to Detroit coach Larry Brown, Wallace wasn't supposed to trap Ginobili. Despite the breakdown, he recognized Horry for making the Pistons pay.
"Sometimes things like that happen," Brown said. "But he still had to make the shot, and you've got to give him credit for that."
Horry's heroics began when he shook off an 0-for-4 start to convert a three-pointer with one second remaining to give his team a 64-63 edge at the end of the third quarter. Horry added 18 more points in the fourth quarter and overtime, 15 of which either tied the game or provided the Spurs with the lead.
"That was probably the greatest performance I've ever been a part of," said Spurs center Tim Duncan, who struggled down the stretch, missing key free throws and a putback at the end of regulation. "He pulled me out of an incredible hole that I put myself in."
There's a reason that hand Horry gave Duncan has five pieces of jewlery attached to it.
"He did everything," Brown said. "That's why I think he has five rings. He's a big time player. In moments like that, that's the difference. I have a lot of respect for that team and him, and what he's been able to do throughout his career. You don't play on championship caliber teams unless you have what he has.
"He's done it with Houston, he's done it with L.A. and now he's done it with San Antonio. He usually does it at the most important time."
That timeliness has not only led to a catchy nickname, but more titles than any other active player in the NBA. Horry's also participated in the playoffs every season of his career and even owns the NBA Playoff record for most consecutive three-pointers in a game without a miss, knocking down seven treys in Game 2 of the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals.
"I think I like the pressure," Horry said about the postseason. "Pressure kind of makes me focus more."
Duncan even joked that Horry disappears when the game isn't on the line.
"I'll tell you the deal with Rob," Duncan said. "Rob just hangs out the entire game. He does it all season long, he doesn't do anything. He doesn't feel like playing. He shows up sometimes.
"Then you put him in the fourth quarter in a big game, whether it be regular season or the playoffs, and he's like, 'Okay, it's time to play now. I've been hanging out the entire season, it's time to play now.' And he just turns it on."
When asked about his teammate's comments, Horry said, "he didn't know if it's a good thing or bad thing."
"I get excited for the regular season, also, but it's just added excitement when the playoffs start," he said.
-- Brad Friedman will cover the Spurs throughout The Finals.
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