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1999 NBA Playoffs

Spurs finish off Timberwolves

Robinson scores 19 as San Antonio beats Minnesota 92-85

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Posted: Saturday May 15, 1999 07:54 PM

  Mr. Smith goes home: Joe Smith and the T'wolves just couldn't contain the Spurs' David Robinson. AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- David Robinson found the fight he was looking for.

Forced to patrol the low post alone when the game got too physical for Tim Duncan, Robinson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up their first-round series against Minnesota with a hard-fought 92-85 victory Saturday.

"What their physicality did was it really pushed Duncan off the block. It compressed our perimeter guys in the post. And it was too crowded for him to do anything," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "That's why you saw us go to David so much tonight. And David came up huge, he was a monster."

Robinson and Joe Smith, two of the league's most mild-mannered players, tangled just before halftime, and Mario Elie, who was in the trainer's room for stitches above his right eye thanks to an Anthony Peeler elbow, was whooping and hollering.

"I was watching that on TV and I said, 'Is that David Robinson on our team ready to fight?'" Elie said. "I love that. David's got to show some emotion. You know guys can't just bully him around. This guy's got pride and he's strong.

"It was good to see him react like that," Elie added. "A guy threatens your manhood and you've got to step up. That's what Dave did and it sort of got him fired up and he came out and had a terrific second half for us."

Robinson and Peeler were hesitant to talk about the tussle.

"It's the playoffs, let's put it that way, it's playoff time," Robinson said. "I responded the way I needed to."

The Spurs, the top seed in the Western Conference, won the series 3-1 by taking Games 3 and 4 at Target Center, where Robinson had 17 points and 18 rebounds Thursday night.

Avery Johnson, who added 17 points, said the Spurs are no longer pushovers, thanks to the free-agent acquisitions of Elie and Jerome Kersey.

"We're a different Spurs team," he said. "The old Spurs would have lost a game like this. I like the David Robinson on the court this year more than any other time in my career. I think more than anything we have more mental toughness. Mario and Jerome come in and brought it to another level. Those two don't let David make weak moves."

And he had none Saturday.

Still, Minnesota trailed just 82-81 with four minutes left before Sean Elliott and Duncan sank two foul shots around a Robinson dunk for an 88-81 lead.

Terrell Brandon scored a season-best 27 points and Kevin Garnett added 20 for the Wolves, who shot just 20 free throws compared to San Antonio's 42.

The game took a violent turn late in the first half. Peeler put a deep cut above Elie's right eye with a foul with 3:37 left, Robinson and Smith tangled with 1:14 left, Peeler and Will Perdue picked up flagrant fouls and Perude and Tom Hammonds drew a double technical.

"We firmly believe in defending our home," Garnett said. "We look out for each other and watch each other's backs. We're not a dirty team."

Most of the fussing and fighting went on while Elie was getting stitches after accepting Peeler's apology.

Wolves coach Flip Saunders said the brawling wasn't in the game plan.

"I wouldn't say that we're exactly fighters. We will go out and stick up for ourselves," Saunders said. "But we're definitely not going into the game with the idea that we're going to beat up the other team. It was a heated game. When there's a lot at stake what both teams are going to do is fight for it."

And that fed right into Robinson's hands.

"Tonight we just went to him a lot more offensively because it became pretty obvious that they were going to take Timmy out of the game," Popovich said. "Rather than fight that crowd, it's better for us to share the wealth."

The officials didn't let anything go in the second half, and that didn't bode well for the Wolves, who quickly had four of their starters with three or more fouls.

The Spurs, who led 44-42 at halftime and 64-63 after three quarters, outscored the Wolves 32-16 from the foul line.

"This is the playoffs," Wolves center Dean Garrett said. "You can't give guys easy baskets. You have to make them earn the points at the line."

They did. The Spurs scored 11 of their free throws after falling behind 69-64 with 10:38 left.

"I can't imagine anybody going after us any harder," Popovich said.

Notes: Saunders commended the crowd for its great support "even tough it was the beginning of walleye season." ... The Wolves failed to make it out of the first round for the third straight year. ... Saunders said the Wolves will likely keep their two first-round draft picks, a top-5 selection from the Stephon Marbury trade and No. 14 overall. ... After he was elbowed, Elie got his inch-and-half long cut covered with butterfly stitches, sank both free throws, then left for regular, multiple layer stitches to close the deep wound. ... Smith's mother, Letha, was released from the hospital where she was taken with an irregular heartbeat after Game 3 on Thursday night. Smith lost his father to a heart attack last month.

 
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David Robinson's 19 points and 11 rebounds were too much for the Timberwolves to handle.
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