SAN ANTONIO, June 12 (Ticker) --
The San Antonio Spurs picked up right
where they left off and have the Detroit Pistons picking up the
With a solid all-around effort again spearheaded by the
omnipresent Manu Ginobili
, the Spurs sped to a big lead and
rolled to a convincing 97-76 victory over the Pistons, taking
firm control of the NBA Finals.
Ginobili, the hero of Game One, missed just two shots while
amassing 27 points and seven assists. Tim Duncan
metronomic 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Spurs,
who launched an outside assault with 10 3-pointers.
"We know who we are, we know how we play, how good we are,"
"When we're playing on that level and hitting shots like that,
we're really tough to beat," Duncan said.
As in Game One, the Spurs fought off a late push by the Pistons,
who are living way too dangerously. They trail by two games in
a series for the first time under coach Larry Brown, who was
hit with a technical foul.
You could excuse recently elected San Antonio Mayor Phil
Hardberger if he began planning a parade route. Only two teams
have come back to win the Finals after losing the first two
games. It is hard to imagine the Spurs, who have won eight of
their last nine games, losing four of their next five.
Having used a big fourth quarter to win the opener, the Spurs
did all the things the Pistons were supposed to do. They shared
the ball, used solid defense to shut down opposing scorers and
played with a sense of urgency.
"I was really pleased with the way they reacted to the win,"
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said. "It gets more difficult after a
win to come back and understand how that subconscious sort of
complacency can set in."
"That was beautiful to watch in terms of their execution,"
Setting the tone was Bruce Bowen
, who again frustrated
on defense and emerged as a contributor on offense with
four 3-pointers and 15 points.
"It's always fun when shots are going in for you," said Bowen,
who has held Hamilton to 33 percent (12-of-36) shooting in the
first two games.
"He takes great pride in trying to make somebody on the other
team work harder and tonight he combined it with knocking down
some threes," Popovich said.
The Pistons had been promising the sort of response that they
showed in evening previous series against Indiana and Miami.
Instead, they came out squeezing the basketball and succumbed to
the pressure of avoiding an ominous 0-2 deficit.
Detroit's championship pedigree was nowhere to be found. The
Pistons never led, did not move the ball on offense, repeatedly
were beaten to loose balls and again lost their poise with three
technicals. In other words, they did not play "the right way."
"We've kind of gotten frustrated and went on our own a little
bit too much," Brown said. "I think defensively we've been real
soft. We haven't been able to keep people in front of us and
that's been a key."
The defending champs are headed home for Games Three, Four and
Five - perhaps. They became the first home team to sweep the
middle three games last year but should keep in mind that the
Spurs have won their last four road contests.
"We've got to take it one quarter at a time," said Pistons guard
, who started slowly and finished with 13
points. "We can't take it one game at a time. We've got to
play quarters now."
"Their crowd is going to push a lot," said Ginobili, who took
just eight shots, making six, including four 3-pointers. "But
we've been playing really well on the road."
Ginobili and Bowen made 3-pointers in a game-opening 8-0 run,
and the Spurs were off to the races. Another 3-pointer by
Ginobili made it 28-16 late in the first quarter.
"We moved the ball so well early, and on top of that, we knocked
down shots and we really spead the floor," Duncan said.
Saddled with foul trouble, the Pistons got no closer than seven
points thereafter. A driving layup by Robert Horry
, who scored
12 points pushed the margin to 51-33 before the Spurs settled
for a 58-42 halftime advantage.
Bowen's 3-pointer gave San Antonio its largest lead at 69-46
with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
Detroit fought back within 79-63 entering the fourth quarter and
closed to 81-73 with 7:14 remaining on a drive by Hamilton, who
scored 14 points.
However, the Spurs pushed the Pistons into the penalty and
pounced as Ginobili made 6-of-8 free throws in a 13-0 surge that
"We were on kind of a run, then it was free throw after free
throw, free throw after free throw," said Billups, who also was
hit with a technical.