Allen recovered and scored 25 points in Game 2, but they proved to be meaningless during San Antonio's 108-91 rout. As the series shifted to Seattle, Allen scored 20 in Game 3 but went a disappointing 6 of 23 from the field and was held scoreless by Bowen in the fourth quarter. Still, the Sonics escaped with a 92-91 win as Duncan missed a four-footer as time expired.
After Allen scored 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting to lead Seattle to a 101-89 victory in Game 4, Popovich challenged his team. "It's very disappointing to be in a position to go up 3-1," he said, "and then go back and see such unaggressive, sloppy, uninspired play."
Bowen's career was the stuff of such challenges. Who ever imagined that an undrafted free agent would become an indispensable starter on the NBA's premier team? He was aggressive, crisp and inspired in Game 5, limiting Allen to four points in the second half and 19 overall. At the other end, Manu Ginobili wore down his defender, Allen, by scoring a career-playoff-high 39 points during a 103-90 victory. "Ray got away from us in Seattle, and we got him under a little better control tonight," said Popovich. "We were fortunate in that regard, and that set the tone for us. Manu and Bruce were aggressive, and they led the way for us tonight."
The Spurs closed out the series with a thrilling 98-96 win, with Duncan overcoming a sprained ankle of his own to produce the winning layup with less than a second remaining and Allen misfiring on a three-point attempt over Duncan at the buzzer. While the headlines went to Duncan and Ginobili, Bowen's teammates fully appreciated his role in limiting Allen and seeing San Antonio through a series that turned out to be more difficult than anyone had predicted. But Bowen couldn't afford to dwell on this momentary success. Next up would be the Phoenix Suns and a date with their power forward Marion. Too bad for Marion.