Which way did he go?
Knicks' lapse on key play late in third costs them
Posted: Saturday June 19, 1999 08:19 AM
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
SAN ANTONIO -- A little talk, a bit of confusion -- and a temporarily misplaced 7-footer -- turned the tide in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Friday.
The San Antonio Spurs, who seem to like to play with their competition before putting them away, were up by 11 points at one juncture of the third quarter Friday night. A little over five minutes later, with less than three seconds left, they found themselves up by only three over the scattershot New York Knicks.
That’s when they delivered the knockout.
“Huge play. Huge play, and we get the ball back to start the fourth,” said the Spurs’ Sean Elliott, who was instrumental in the play.
“How key was that?” asked the Knicks’ Latrell Sprewell, who was also in on it.
“I think everybody was a little confused,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I think they forgot that it was just a one-shot deal there.”
This is how the game-changer unfolded.
The ball found its way to Steve Kerr, who passed to Elliott, who laid in the ball and was fouled by Sprewell with 2.5 seconds left.
Elliott missed the free throw, though, and while two Knicks were talking about how they were going to block out Duncan, the 7-footer slipped in, grabbed the rebound and stuck it back in, with 1.9 seconds left.
Four-points. The lead up to seven.
Game not over. But not far from it.
“They were trying to box me out,” Duncan said. “We were kind of talking to the referee and Sean shot the ball and I just kind of took off before they could see.
“Luckily, it bounced my way and I just tapped it in there. That was a big play for us. Just kind of a back-breaker at that point.”
One of the Knicks involved in the play was Marcus Camby, one of their better rebounders. The other was Sprewell.
“I don’t even know what was being said,” Duncan said. “They were trying to do something funky.”
Said Camby: “We were talking about ... our arms locking. He was able to sneak in there and grab it and put it back in.”
The play was strangely ironic -- at least as ironic as any basketball play can be -- because the Spurs went without an offensive rebound for the entire first half. They didn’t grab their first until 7:33 was left in the third, and they only had five for the game. That’s two short of the NBA record.
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