Monday , Jun , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Horry puts Spurs at brink of title

(Sports Network) – Thirty-four-year-old Robert Horry’s clutch play has San
Antonio just one win away from capturing its second championship in three
years. In the crucial Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Horry drained a three with 5.8
seconds remaining in overtime to give the Spurs a 96-95 win and a 3-2
advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Horry, who has won five NBA championships over his career, came off the bench
and scored 21 points on 7-of-12 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from beyond
the arc. He also grabbed seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action. The veteran
forward netted all of his points in his final 17 minutes of court time.

“He (Horry) was unbelievable,” said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich
after Game 5’s victory. “We started the overtime with Nazr (Mohammed) trying
to get the tip, and we were fortunate enough to get it and stuck him right
back in because throughout the fourth quarter, he was unbelievable. We had to
keep him on the court as much as we could, and he read the floor great. He
drove it, he got to the open areas. He’s just got a great sense about him.
He’s a really smart player.

Originally selected out of Alabama by Houston in the first round (11th pick
overall) of the 1992 NBA Draft, Horry, who won two titles with the Rockets and
three as a member of the Lakers, put down a driving left-handed dunk while he
was fouled to pull San Antonio within two at 95-93 with 1:25 to go in the
first overtime.

With Detroit still ahead by two, 95-93, Horry took a pass from Manu Ginobili,
who was caught in the corner, and drilled the go-ahead three with under
six seconds left to give San Antonio the lead. The Pistons went to Richard
Hamilton for their last shot, but the guard’s attempt to give Detroit the win
was off and the Spurs left The Palace of Auburn Hills with a one-point
victory.

Horry, who is known for his timely play in the postseason, amazed his
teammates with his play in Game 5.

“Yeah, unbelievable,” said San Antonio forward Tim Duncan. “That was probably
the greatest performance I’ve ever been a part of, to just see him there and
to see him as calm as he was and willing to do whatever. He was picking up
charges, getting the rebounds and although continue to show is the shots that
he knocked down but he did so much more than that down the stretch.”

Duncan finished with a team-best 26 points and also pulled down a game-high 19
rebounds in 48 minutes of action. The Wake Forest product was 11-of-24 from
the floor, but converted just 4-of-11 attempts from the charity stripe.
Ginobili ended with 15 points and nine assists, while Tony Parker netted 14 in
the win.

Chauncey Billups scored a game-high 34 points for the defending world champion
Pistons in Game 5’s loss. Billups, who was the 2004 NBA Finals MVP, also
dished out a team-best seven assists. Hamilton netted 15 in defeat, while All-
Star Ben Wallace registered 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

“I have to get over this one,” said Detroit head coach Larry Brown after Game
5’s loss. “This was tough. We had a great opportunity. One, it was a heck of a
game, and you’ve got to give them credit. Robert (Horry) made some huge shots
when they needed it. They defended great and did a lot of good things. It’s
the kind of game you hate to see anybody lose, so we’ve got to just bounce
back. We haven’t won down there in a long time. We’ve got to figure out a way
to realize that we’ve got to make it a one game series.”

The 13-year veteran Horry has played in 196 playoff contests during his
career. He has earned a reputation for knocking down the big shot when the
game is on the line. Horry, who averaged just 6.0 points and 3.6 boards in 75
contests during the regular season, proved once again why he is once of the
most clutch players in NBA playoff history.

“You know what, I’ll tell you the deal with Rob, Rob just hangs out the entire
game,” said Duncan. “He does it all season long, he doesn’t do anything. He
doesn’t feel like playing. He shows up sometimes, and then you put him in the
fourth quarter in a big game, whether it be regular season or the playoffs,
and he’s like, ‘Okay, it’s time to play now, I’ve been hanging out the entire
season, it’s time to play now’ And he just turns it on. As funny as that
seems, it’s how it looks. It’s how it is. He doesn’t show up, doesn’t feel
like playing until it’s a big game.”

Detroit, which is 3-1 all-time in the NBA Finals, is 5-6 on the road in this
year’s playoffs. The Pistons have won four straight games when facing
elimination. The defending world champions will be ready to make their last
stand when the series resumes in San Antonio.

The Spurs return to the SBC Center with a chance to win their third NBA title
in franchise history. They are 2-0 all-time in the finals when they have a
chance to win the championship, and are 8-2 as the host in this year’s
playoffs. If San Antonio fails to win Game 6, it still has the luxury of
playing the decisive Game 7 in front of its home crowd.

San Antonio, which won Games 1 and 2 at the SBC Center before losing two-of-
three at The Palace, is a veteran club that knows how to close out a series.
The playoff-tested Spurs, who were a league-best 38-3 at home during the
regular season, will be tough to beat in back-to-back games on their
homecourt.

DET SAN