SAN ANTONIO, June 23 (Ticker) --
In his first Game 7, Tim Duncan
was second to none and gave the San Antonio Spurs their third
Reaffirming his status as the best player on the planet, Duncan
came up big in the biggest game of his career as the Spurs found
the resolve to dethrone the Detroit Pistons, 81-74, and win the
NBA TV highlights from |
With his unique multidimensional talent, Duncan depleted and
dissected the Pistons, collecting 25 points and 11 rebounds. He
was the fulcrum of virtually every key play down the stretch.
"His complete game is so sound, so fundamnetal, so unnoticed at
times, because if he didn't score, people think, 'Well, he
didn't do anything,'" Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said. "But he
was incredible and he was the force that got it done for us."
Shaky showings in Games 5 and 6 had many questioning
Duncan's determination. Playing an all-or-nothing game for the
first time, he did it all, rescuing the Spurs in the third
quarter and controlling the game in the final period.
"It wasn't the greatest of games but there was a stretch where I
felt really good and I just wanted to be assertive at that
point," Duncan said.
"You follow your leader," Spurs guard Tony Parker
is the leader of the team, and he just carried us tonight."
Duncan scored when the Spurs needed it, then turned his
teammates into stars. He even dove for a pair of loose balls,
showing the Pistons he wanted the championship as badly as they
"They just kept coming to me and kept giving me the
opportunities and I got one to fall in and two to fall in and
things started happening," said Duncan, who made 10-of-27 shots.
"Then I was able to draw some double-teams and got some guys
some open shots."
"He put his team on his shoulders and carried them to a
championship," Pistons center Ben Wallace
said. "That's what the
great players do."
Thriving off Duncan were Manu Ginobili
, who scored 11 of his 23
points in the last 10 minutes, and wily veteran Robert Horry
who scored 15 points off the bench and collected his sixth
Averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds in the series, Duncan
captured his third Finals MVP award. He also powered the Spurs
to titles in 1999 and 2003 and has put down the roots of
possibly the league's next dynasty.
"In years past, we've lost six, seven, eight, nine guys in a
year and rebuilt," Duncan said. "I think we've really got a core
here that we're in love with, that obviously is a pretty decent
core and we're going to have it together for a couple of
It also was the third title for Popovich, who was in a tough
spot coaching against good friend and Pistons coach Larry Brown
who may have coached his last game and came up just short of
going out on top.
"He made me feel real comfortable and he was congratulatory and
is just classy beyond belief," said Popovich, who got his start
in the NBA from Brown. "It felt weird."
"You want to win badly, but I also recognize the fact that
another team deserved it," Brown said.
Detroit showed determination throughout the entire series,
fighting back to erase a 2-0 deficit and showing amazing
resiliency to win Game 6 on the road after losing Game 5 at
home on an Horry 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
However, the Pistons did not get what they needed from several
key players. Chauncey Billups
, the 2004 Finals MVP, was held to
13 points on 3-of-8 shooting. Rasheed Wallace was hampered by
foul trouble and held to 11.
Duncan opened the fourth quarter with a dunk to snap a 57-57
tie, and the Spurs never trailed again. A dunk by Ginobili and
a 3-pointer by Horry made it 64-59 with 8:23 to go.
On one possession, Duncan passed out of a double-team to Horry,
tracked down his missed 3-pointer, drew another double-team and
found Bruce Bowen
for a 3-pointer and a 67-61 advantage.
"You could tell when he caught the ball, how much more physical
he was, getting in position and bumping and grinding and getting
shots and making sure he got toward the rim, so that when
people came at him he was in good position to open up a
teammate," Popovich said.
Two minutes later, Duncan ran down a loose ball and called
timeout, then drilled a 20-footer to keep the lead at 69-63 with
3:38 to play. After a basket by Billups, Duncan again burned a
double-team with a pass to Ginobili for a 3-pointer.
"I think it was in that moment that we started changing the game
and feeling more confident," Ginobili said.
"A lot of the shots they made, open shots, came as a result of
us having a hard time guarding him," Brown said. "That's why
he's such a great player."
The Pistons kept coming as a free throw and hoop by Billups made
it 72-68 with 1:20 left. Duncan stalled the charge with a free
throw, and Bowen stopped it cold by blocking Billups'
3-pointer. Ginobili sealed it with a layup at the other end.
"Once he went up in the air and I saw he was committed, it was a
chance for me to react," Bowen said.
The Spurs shot better, held a 38-34 advantage on the glass and
weathered 13 turnovers, which had a been a problem throughout the
series. Parker scored eight points.
scored 15 points on just 6-of-18 shooting for
the Pistons. Teammate Ben Wallace
was unrelenting with 12
points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
With the game on the verge of getting away from the Spurs in the
third quarter, Duncan reeled it back in with 12 points in the
last six-plus minutes, decimating Detroit's foul-depleted
He powered for a pair of three-point plays and sank a pair of
bankers as San Antonio turned a nine-point deficit into a 57-55
"There was a point there I got on a roll for a little while,"
Duncan said. "My shot felt good and things started going down
for me and I just tried to be aggressive."
As expected with two defensive-minded teams in a winner-take-all
game, it was the lowest-scoring first half in Finals Game 7 history.
Parker took a brief early seat with jitters leading to
overpenetration and the Pistons grabbed a 12-6 lead. However,
they also showed some nerves by missing six straight shots while
the Spurs ran off 10 consecutive points, six by Horry.
The entire second quarter was a one-possession game, with both
teams scoreless for a stretch of over three minutes. After
sat down with his third foul at the 5:21 mark,
had dunks on three straight possessions to help
Detroit seize a 39-38 halftime lead.
sat again with his fourth foul in the first
minute of the third quarter. Undaunted, the Pistons rattled off
nine points in a row, taking their largest lead at 48-39 on a
spinning banker by Antonio McDyess
, who came on for Rasheed
"Rasheed was strapped all game," Brown said. "If you don't have
your big people with the ability to play aggressively on Duncan,
you've got no shot."