There's nothing better than game seven in a championship series. It just feels like it's got more weight behind it when the teams have battled to a draw through six previous games ... that's one aspect of the MLB and NBA playoffs that I love. That said, game sevens normally aren't spectacular, jaw-dropping games. Why? I imagine because of the pressure that's put on the players, the amount at stake, etc. That said, last night's game was much better during the second half than it was in the first half.
It took awhile for the Spurs to get going, but once they did, they never looked back. Tim Duncan's third quarter -- you could feel him heating up through the TV -- was the best 12 minutes by any player in any quarter this series. You don't often seen Duncan demand the ball, put his team on his back, and take charge; normally he's the quiet assassin. Thursday night, however, he did just that in the third quarter -- ending up with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block for the period. He single-handedly brought San Antonio back from the dead and reminded us all why he's probably the best all-around player in the NBA today.
The most disappointing thing for Detroit was that nobody stepped up on offense. Their leading scorer, Rip Hamilton, had 15 points and I was surprised to see he was in double-digits looking up the stats online after the game (since ABC doesn't ever, and I mean ever feel the need to provide us with these items). Going into this game, I wrote to a friend that one of Hamilton, Price, or Billups would have to come up huge in the fourth quarter for Detroit to win, and neither did. Those three guys combined shot 13-39 from the field for the game. In the fourth quarter alone, Prince was 0-2, Hamilton 1-4, and Billups 2-3. Three field goals combined from your three best perimeter players? I believe that cost Detroit the game.
Other notes from the game:
- Anyone notice Rasheed's contribution? The box score doesn't show it, but he played a stinker of a game. Zero rebounds in the first half, and then foul trouble put him on the bench early in the third quarter, when Duncan began heating up. To follow that, he took by far the worst shot of the game. Down six with 2:20 left and 15 seconds on the shot clock, he put up an airball three-point shot that fell straight into Rober Horry's hands. Essentially a turnover, and the subsequent Spurs' hoop advanced the lead.
- Another huge play late in the fourth: Spurs up four, Duncan posts up on the block, Detroit defense collapses on him and he finds Ginobili with a perfect chest pass for a wide-open three. Unheralded but spectacular play.
- Tony Parker was terrible last night. The Spur offense looked better all game with Ginobili bringing up the ball and initiating offense, and Parker couldn't find his shot, to the point that he was passing up wide-open three pointers in the fourth quarter.
- The Spurs made 7 of their 8 free throws down the stretch. Supposedly their biggest weakness, they were rock-solid.
- 12 toal fast break points in the game between the two teams. Brutal.