Spurs await Duncan's return, Robinson doubtful for Game 5Posted: Thursday May 02, 2002 8:22 PM
Updated: Friday May 03, 2002 10:48 AM
After attending memorial services for his father Thursday in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Duncan was scheduled to return to San Antonio in time for Friday's game, the San Antonio Express News reported.
Robinson, however, who has missed all but seven minutes of the series, is still bothered by a sore back and hip. Should the Spurs beat the Sonics and advance to a second-round meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, Coach Gregg Popovich does not believe Robinson will be able to play in Sunday's opener, according to the Express News.
With both Duncan and Robinson missing, the Sonics, led by Gary Payton's triple-double, knotted the series with a 91-79 win in KeyArena on Wednesday.
Popovich said Wednesday that Duncan, averaging 27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game in the playoffs, was trying his best to get back for Game 5 in the Alamodome, but that his presence wasn't yet certain.
Popovich said that he couldn't tell how Duncan's absence affected his team.
"I'm not a psychiatrist," he said. "I just deal with reality. The shots didn't go in."
San Antonio's shooting from the floor was as low as 16 percent in the first half and ended at 33 percent (27-for-82). Seattle made half of its shots (34-for-68) on the night.
If Duncan is in uniform Friday, the Spurs will be fired up.
"We'll be very emotional for him," guard Antonio Daniels said. "It'll be different at home in the Alamodome full of fans. We'll go back to the team who we are."
Seattle forward Vin Baker said his team shouldn't be thinking about Duncan.
"We've got to come out and play with intensity," he said. "We either win the game or we go home."
Wednesday marked the first playoff game for San Antonio without both Duncan and Robinson since Duncan joined the team for the 1997-98 season.
Robinson, who injured his lower back late in the regular season, remained doubtful for Friday. He played a few minutes in Game 1 before his back tightened, and has missed the next three games.
San Antonio's casualty list doesn't stop there.
Reserve sharpshooter Danny Ferry, nursing a sprained wrist, played only two minutes Wednesday and guard Charles Smith separated his right shoulder after tumbling over a Sonics player while going for a rebound.
With backup center Mark Bryant ejected for fighting, the Spurs were down to seven players late in the fourth quarter.
The Sonics played without forward Rashard Lewis, who dislocated his left shoulder last weekend in Game 3. Lewis led Seattle in rebounding during the regular season and was second in scoring at about 17 points a game.
Malik Rose, who led San Antonio in Game 4 with 28 points and 13 rebounds, said the Spurs will be buoyed by playing at home. He was angered by Seattle fans after Smith flipped over Ansu Sesay's back and landed hard on the floor.
"It'll be great to not have to deal with fans laughing and cheering when a guy separates his shoulder," he said.
Daniels said the Spurs can take some consolation out of their performance after the break, as they outscored Seattle, 48-34.
"We made a nice little run at them in the second half," he said. "We have to hold our heads high and go into Friday with the right mindset."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.