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1999 NBA Playoffs

A well-traveled man

San Antonio's Jackson shoots down the Knicks

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Posted: Thursday June 17, 1999 02:31 AM

  Jaren Jackson's (left) pressure on Allen Houston may have helped the team defensive cause, but his second half shooting put even more pressure on the Knicks. Todd Washaw/AP

By John Donovan, CNN/SI

SAN ANTONIO -- He's been with eight teams in nine years, been a CBA player and a player in the World Basketball League. At one time, he thought a 10-day contract in the NBA was a step up.

Wednesday night, Jaren Jackson finally hit the big, big time.

"I've always felt positive about my career," Jackson said after his clutch shooting propelled the San Antonio Spurs to a 89-77 win over the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "I've always felt that at some point, eventually, I would get a shot or an opportunity to show a coach or a general manager that I could contribute to a team."

Jackson earned the shot last year with the Spurs -- he played in all 82 games -- and Wednesday night, the Spurs' faith in him paid big dividends.

After a sputtering first half in which he hit only one of his five 3-point tries and scored only three points, Jackson burst out in the second half, nailing five of his six shots -- including four of his five 3-point attempts -- to keep the Spurs ahead.

He finished with 17 points.

Maybe none of Jackson's shots was more important than a buzzer-beating, off-balance fadeaway 3-pointer from the right corner that he nailed with 8:10 left in the game and the Knicks within six points.

"He hit [that] dagger three, with the clock running down, off a pick and roll," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We gotta take away Jaren Jackson. We can't give him those threes."

Jackson nailed three of his four 3-point tries in the fourth quarter, the last coming with a bit more than 2 minutes left. It gave the Spurs a 15-point bulge and finally put away any notion the Knicks had of a comeback.

"I was just trying to take what the defense gave me, be aggressive with my shot and just let it go," he said. "I just play. It's a simple game."

Jackson averaged only 6.4 points a game during the regular season, but he has come up big in the playoffs. He's now scored 10 or more points in seven of the Spurs 13 playoff games and is averaging 9.5 points a game.

His outside shooting will be critical for the Spurs, who are often forced into taking jumpers because of the double-teaming on their big men, Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

Jackson, a veteran in every sense of the word, knows how that works. Probably better than most.

"That's the toughest thing, making sure we execute offensively," Jackson said. "I made some shots when we needed them. And that's what it's all about in the playoffs."

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