On Tim Duncan’s 34th birthday, the Spurs needed a strong start to game 4 to inch closer to pushing Dallas to the brink of elimination, they did not get that start. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili shot a combined 2-15 from the field in the first half and only produced 4 points, all from Ginobili, who decided not to wear a protective mask to protect his broken nose.
The game looked like it was going to be another offensive struggle for Dallas when they missed their first four shots, but they got back on track getting Caron Butler the ball often, just as Coach Rick Carlisle said that he would do. The two teams went back and forth for most of the quarter with each team getting their own small runs, Dallas with a 6-0 run and San Antonio with a 7-0. Butler chipped in 6 points in the first quarter, matching his point total for all of game 3, while George Hill made two 3 point shots from the same spot after the Spurs did not make any at all in game 3. San Antonio held a 3 point lead at the end of the first quarter, 20-17.
After a slow start from both teams early in the 2nd, Dallas went on a 7-0 run to regain the lead 27-24. After a Antonio McDyess 20 foot jumper Dallas went on another 8-0 run to push the lead to 35-26 and forcing Coach Greg Popovich to call a time out to stop the run and talk it over. Coming out of the time out, Ginobili made a 4 foot runner to stop the bleeding, only to see Dallas go on another 8-0 run and then push the lead to 15 points, 43-28. The Spurs were getting out rebounded, outscored and simply outplayed. Had it not been for the great play of George Hill, he scored 13 points, the Spurs could have easily been down by 20 plus points. Dallas outscored the Spurs 31-17 in the 2nd quarter and held the lead at the break, 48-37.
We will never truly know what Popovich said to the Spurs during the halftime break, but whatever he said lit a fire in the Spurs players, especially DeJuan Blair and Hill. Blair’s numbers were not great but all of the hustle plays that he made in the 3rd quarter definitely made a big impact on how the Spurs got back into this game. Tim Duncan scored his first two points of the game on two made free throws early in the 3rd quarter, after shooting 0-7 from the field and 0-2 from the free throw line in the first half. The Spurs were running on all cylinders in this quarter and definitely in tune as far as their defense goes. San Antonio outscored Dallas 29-11 in this quarter which included a run of 15-0 and 26-6 overall. Things started getting heated in this quarter as Dirk Nowitzki picked up a technical foul for pushing Blair in the back after they got tangled after a free throw shot. A few moments later, Richard Jefferson was accessed a flagrant one foul on Nowitzki and the two teams exchanged some words before referees broke everyone up and got the situation under control. After all of the madness the Spurs held the lead at the end of 3 quarters, 66-59.
In the first minute of the 4th quarter Eduardo Najera was charged with a flagrant two foul on Ginobili and ejected from the game. A couple minutes later Blair was charged with a flagrant one foul on Jason Kidd and it seemed like the game was being called under a magnifying glass at this point. The referees did not want another melee to happen like the one that happened in Indiana in 2004 and with good reason. These two teams have too much on the line to risk any of their key players to get suspended. After the teams got back to playing the Spurs went on a 12-2 run to push their lead to 13, 84-71. Dallas would not go away without a fight, the Mavericks answered with a 13-2 run of their own to get right back in the game and put the score at 84-86 in favor of the Spurs. After a much needed 3 point basket from Ginobili put the Spurs lead at 5, Jason Terry answered right back with a 3 pointer of his own to put the score at 87-89, Spurs with :57 seconds to go in the game. Ginobili got fouled while making a attempt to drive in the lane and knocked down two crucial free throws to put the Spurs back up by 4 points with :42 seconds to go. Nowitzki missed a 14 foot jumper with :28 seconds to go but Ginobili and Kidd both grabbed the ball and a jump ball was called. After Manu miss jumped on the jump ball, he knocked it out of bounds to give Dallas the ball back, down 4 with 22.7 seconds to go. After a Dallas time out, Jason Kidd missed a 3 and Jefferson grabbed the rebound and got fouled. Jefferson made the two free throws to put the game at a 2 possession game and Dallas came down the court and missed another 3 point shot and the game was over. The Spurs got a very crucial victory in this game, 92-89, and extended their series lead 3 games to 1.
- Tim Duncan only scored 4 points, a career playoff low, on 1-9 shooting and 2-4 from the free throw line but still managed to grab 11 rebounds.
- George Hill had a career playoff best 29 points and carried the team when the “Big 3” struggled during most parts of the game.
- 3 flagrant fouls(DeJuan Blair, Richard Jefferson, Eduardo Najera) were called and one player(Eduardo Najera) got ejected from the game.
- After being down 3 games to 1, only 8 out of 190(4.2%) teams have come back to win the series, the last team to do it was Phoenix against the Lakers in 2006.