SEATTLE, May 19 (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan
turned around an ugly start to
provide a beautiful ending for the San Antonio Spurs.
Despite suffering an apparent ankle injury with just over eight
minutes to play, Duncan scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth
quarter and hit the go-ahead layup with less than a second
remaining to lift the Spurs to a dramatic 98-96 win over the
Seattle Supersonics, clinching their Western Conference
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The win was the first by a road team in the series and advanced
San Antonio to the Western Conference finals for the fourth time
in seven seasons. The Spurs will meet either Phoenix or
To get there, San Antonio had to weather a difficult outing from
Duncan and was rewarded for its patience with a brilliant
finish by its superstar forward.
After Antonio Daniels
split a pair of free throws with 14
seconds left to tie it at 96-96, San Antonio set up its final
, who scored 39 points in a win in Game 5, took
the inbounds pass and dribbled down the clock before making his
move with about five seconds to go. With Daniels on him,
Ginobili penetrated to the left side of the foul line and
whipped a pass to Duncan in the low post for short shot off the
"My biggest concern was to not leave them a shot," Ginobili
said. "I wanted to consume all the time possible. If I could
finish, fine, if not find the open guy. I'm very happy that Tim
could make the shot in the quick time he had."
, who scored 25 points for the SuperSonics, had a
3-pointer hit off the rim as time expired.
"I told myself it's not going to happen and then when the shot
went up, I thought 'Oh my gosh,' and then it bounced off and I
felt really good," Spurs guard Tony Parker
Duncan, who missed his first nine shots, did not make a basket
until the late stages of the third quarter and suffered his
injury with 8:08 left in the fourth. It was the opposite ankle
from the one he sprained in March that forced him to miss 12
games, but was painful enough to cause him to roll on the floor
He managed to get to his feet shortly thereafter and made two
free throws to give the Spurs a 78-77 lead.
"That ankle is probably going to be jelly tomorrow," San Antonio
coach Gregg Popovich
said. "I can't believe he kept playing on
it. He would have had me assassinated if I kept him out any
longer than I did. He showed a lot of guts playing through that
Duncan missed just 26 seconds to rest the foot but saw Seattle
take an 89-88 lead with 3:27 left on Damien Wilkins
Parker responded with a jumper and Robert Horry
3-pointer with 1:47 to go for a 93-89 cushion.
Daniels and Duncan exchanged baskets before the Sonics went on a
5-1 surge prior to Duncan's game-winner.
"Great players continue to compete," Popovich said of Duncan.
"That really separates players. A lot of players have bad games
and really let it get to them. Timmy understands that he has a
responsibility to that whole group. He came up with a huge one
at the end."
"I took shots when they were there," Duncan said of his poor
shooting. "If I'd have taken bad shots, I'd be conscious of it.
They were good shots."
Horry and Parker scored 14 points apiece and Ginobili 13 for the
Spurs, who held a 52-47 lead at halftime.
Daniels, a former Spur, scored 22 points and Wilkins added 10
off the bench for the Sonics, who played their third straight
game without All-Star forward Rashard Lewis
due to a sprained
"We know we were without some guys in Rashard and (forward
)," Seattle coach Nate McMillan
injuries are a part of the game."
The loss ended a campaign that saw Seattle surprise many in
claiming the Northwest Division crown after back-to-back losing
seasons. While the season was a wildly successful one, many
question marks remain as to what the team may look like next
"That has been my goal the whole time," said Allen, a free
agent, when asked if he would like to stay in Seattle. "It's
tough to think about now. A lot of people were asking me if
this was my last game but I plan on being in this uniform.
That's my goal."
Neither team held a double-digit advantage in the game and the
lead changed hands nine times in the fourth.
Following a free throw by Ginobili that gave San Antonio a 96-93
lead with 58 seconds left, Nick Collison
had a follow shot to
pull Seattle within one. After Horry fouled Daniels in a
rebounding battle on the other end, the Sonics guard tied it
with one of two free throws.
Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs' two All-Stars, saved their team
another trip to Texas for Game Seven and gave it at least two
days of rest.
"It was a great playoff game," Popovich said. "We were fortunate
enough to execute down the stretch and get a couple of scores
and we ended up winning the game."