SAN ANTONIO, June 9 (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili
helped the San Antonio
Spurs shake off the rust and leave the defending world champions
in the dust.
Ginobili scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to
complement a huge game by Tim Duncan
as the Spurs got the jump
in the NBA Finals with a methodical 84-69 victory over the
sputtering Detroit Pistons.
Having been idle for a week, the Spurs looked weak. However,
they regrouped behind their three D's - defense, depth and
Duncan, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds. And San Antonio
managed to pull away in the fourth quarter, which is usually
when the Pistons go to work.
Leading the charge was Ginobili, who is making a career of
winning. The Argentine All-Star, already with a championship
ring and an Olympic gold medal, got to work on his second NBA
title by taking over in the final period. He scored eight points
in a decisive 12-2 surge that gave the Spurs a 67-55 lead, then
throttled a push by the Pistons with a swooping dunk, 3-pointer
and running hook for an 81-67 advantage with less than two
minutes to go.
"When I started feeling that everything was going so good for me
and I was being able to finish or hit a three - the one I got
in the fourth quarter - I just felt I was great, couldn't feel
better," said Ginobili, who made 9-of-10 shots in the second
"Unbelievable. He was great," Duncan said. "We got a little
stagnant there because he was amazing. We just stood around and
kind of looked at him and he made big shots."
The matchup of the last two champions appeared to be turning
into a duel between the last two Finals MVPs in Duncan and
, who scored 25 points. However, Duncan
eventually got some help, while Billups was left to go it alone.
scored just six points, all in the first eight
minutes. Richard Hamilton
scored 14 points but also missed 14
shots as he was hounded by Spurs defensive demon Bruce Bowen.
Reserve Antonio McDyess
had two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
"We don't have that kind of personnel to go 1-on-1 and break
people down and get baskets all night," Billups said. "I thought
we reverted to that a little bit."
Duncan kept the Spurs afloat in the first half with 13 points
and 13 rebounds. Ginobili had just four points and three
turnovers before halftime but began to come alive with seven
points in the third quarter, when San Antonio regained the lead
"I was very upset at halftime and I tried to calm down, play at
a little slower pace and things started to get better," Ginobili
"Frustration isn't part of (Ginobili's) personality. He just
goes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
scored 15 points and Nazr Mohammed
added 10 for the
Spurs, who livened up what had been a plodding game with a
spirited fourth quarter. As they did during the season, they
pounded the Pistons on the boards, 49-35.
"I don't think we - other than the first seven, eight minutes -
matched their energy," Pistons coach Larry Brown
effort was phenomenal the whole game."
"We boarded well, so we put ourselves in a position where we
could win a basketball game," Popovich said. "But offensively,
it was Manu Ginobili. He was something else."
Game 2 is here Sunday.
The Pistons were within two points early in the fourth quarter
when Ginobili crashed into Ben Wallace
, who was called for a
block - and a technical foul for arguing. Ginobili turned into
a whirling dervish thereafter with three driving layups,
including a three-point play where the lefthander came across
the lane, took a bump from Hamilton and made a righthanded shot.
"Manu got mad after that and didn't stop penetrating," Parker
said. "He kept attacking."
"They were switching and collapsing a lot in the paint, so I was
always going against two or even three guys," Ginobili said.
"So I know I'm going to expect that, so I don't care."
Consecutive hoops by Duncan helped build the lead to 17 points
before the Pistons rallied with a three-guard lineup, scoring 10
straight points to close to 74-67 with 3:20 to go. Ginobili
re-emerged with a personal 8-0 run to seal matters.
"No doubt that my confidence has been built up a lot," said
Ginobili, a three-year veteran who made the All-Star team for
the first time this season. "Now I know that even if I don't
play well in the beginning, I'm going to be on the court. And
probably in the fourth quarter, I'm going to have the ball in my
"He got some trick shots in his book so that's why I say you got
to keep him out of the paint," said Pistons forward
, whose reputation as a stopper took a serious hit.
The league's two best defensive teams were executing "Operation
Shutdown," but the coaches' knowledge of each other's schemes
also made the basket seem smaller, and the shooting wasn't
great, either. There were a handful of missed layups and
airballs, including one on a free throw by Ben Wallace.
All that nearly led to a dubious entry in the record book. The
155 combined points approached the all-time Finals low of 145 by
Syracuse and Fort Wayne in 1955 - the first season of the shot
Early on, not even the searing humidity outside the SBC Center
could heat up the Spurs, who clearly showed the effects of seven
days off. In the first seven minutes, they had four points and
four turnovers while going scoreless for more than three minutes
- twice. That helped the Pistons open a 17-4 lead and quieted
"I think I had to shake that off a little bit there and I think
I was as big of a culprit as anyone," said Duncan, who missed a
"Maybe sitting around before the game, maybe the hype, maybe
everybody was nervous or maybe they were rusty from the layoff,"
Popovich said. "I don't know. I don't care, I don't think
about things like that."
Popovich went deep into his bench, calling on Devin Brown
, neither of whom played in the conference finals.
Duncan's solid play and a flurry of fouls on the Pistons
helped the Spurs withstand 11 points by Billups in the second
quarter and close to 37-35 at halftime.