Ugly Game, Frenetic Finish

In typical San Antonio fashion, we were given an ugly game.  The kind of game in which we are accustomed to coming up with the win.  And despite a long and ugly game, the last minute was thrilling.
1Q  The Lakers started the game strong, getting an early lead, and dominating the glass offensively.  Horry, continuing his no shooting theme for this series, passed up a very good look.  It would appear the Lakers had a monkey on San Antonio’s rim, as they repeatedly missed jump shots, and met a physical defense in the lane.  Despite the ugly start, San Antonio would only be down 5 at the end of the first.
2Q  The Spurs defense was giving up some easy shots.  The hard fought game continued, and with half time nearing, the Spurs offense would finally start to click.  Odom, Fisher, and Vujacic would all pick up their third fouls, but with Ginobili unable to get anything going, LA would finish the half on a 6-0 run, taking a 6 point lead into the locker room.
3Q  San Antonio started this half slowly, and would take most of the quarter to put their offense back together.  However, every time the Spurs would draw near, the Lakers would beat them back, much like San Antonio has done to opponents repeatedly over the last several years.
4Q  The Spurs would enter the final period with the intensity and aggressiveness they had shown throughout game 3.  Ginobili would finally get his first basket with 6 minutes to play.  Unfortunately, Odom was coming up with multiple big shots to keep the Spurs at bay.  With 42 seconds left, Manu drilled a 3, which was followed by Parker getting a fast break, getting 2 points from a goal tend.  With 28 seconds on the clock, and the Lakers up 2, we wound up seeing the ball go out off of Horry.  With 5.6 seconds left, Kobe missed a difficult fade away.  San Antonio got their opportunity with 2.1 seconds to play, and as Barry pump faked Fisher into leaving his feet, he tried to get out of his path, getting fouled without a call as the game came to a close.  Lakers take a 3-1 series lead, with the 93-91 win.
Review  LA took the lead with offensive rebounding.  The Spurs kept it close with perfect free throw shooting and Laker turnovers.  The second half was a battle that saw the Lakers come up with the win.  After the game, everyone said the last play wasn’t a foul, but you can tell none of them truly believe it wasn’t.  In a league that likes to dish out fines, this is not surprising, especially with the recent history that referee Joey Crawford has with the Spurs.  Despite all the offensive struggles San Antonio had though, they still could have won this game.  Unfortunately, they were out done on the boards by 9, and gave up 13 offensive boards.  Their game 3 shooting didn’t carry over, shooting a mere 7 of 24 from down town.  Barry came up big with 23 off the bench, but with Ginobili scoring only 7, Oberto/Finley/Udoka coming up with blanks, and Horry playing like he’s scared, it simply wasn’t enough.  Strangely enough, Thomas didn’t even log a full minute on the court.
Win Or Vacation  If there is anything that can propel a team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA, it would be the way this game ended.  I am calling this to go the full seven, as the Spurs will use this to motivate them to a win in LA, then gather up another win from their game 6 at home.  Ginobili will respond with a big game, Parker and Duncan will continue big numbers, and the Spurs bench will have enough people coming together to gather up some stats.  The two biggest things that the Spurs NEED to do is keep LA off the glass, and hit their open shots, or in Horry’s case, simply shoot the open shot without hesitation.
Highlights
Duncan:  20 pts, 17 boards, 3 steals, 3 blocks   Parker:  23 pts, 9 assists   Barry:  23 pts, 5 boards
Kobe:  28 pts, 10 boards   Gasol:  10 pts, 10 boards, 6 assists   Odom:  16 pts, 9 boards   Team:  outstanding 1st quarter offensive rebounding

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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