View Full Version : 5/20 ESPN Insider (Spurs Can't finish games !!!!!!)

05-20-2003, 12:52 PM
Spurs struggling to stay ahead
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Tuesday, May 20

Sometimes it's a game-tying 3-pointer by a power forward. Sometimes it's a game-winning 3-pointer by a point guard. This time it was 10 free throws out of 10 before a shooting guard hit a jump hook from inside the key. Who knows what it will be next time?

All we know for sure, all that we can prove, is that as the playoffs go on, the San Antonio Spurs are giving up bigger and bigger leads.
"We know it's a weakness," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in the San Antonio Express News after the Dallas Mavericks made 49 of 50 free throws compared to 31 of 48 for the San Antonio Spurs in the first game of their Western Conference Finals series.

It's easy to point out the fact that even though the Spurs compiled the best record in the entire NBA, they were the fourth-worst free-throw shooting team in the league at 72.5 percent during the regular season.
The only teams worse were the Chicago Bulls at 72.2 percent, the Toronto Raptors at 71.8 percent and the Denver Nuggets at 69.9 percent.

It's also easy to point that during these playoffs, the Spurs are shooting an even worse 70 percent from the line after shooting 64 percent in Monday night's loss. Had they shot 75 percent, they would have won by two points. Had they shot 71 percent, we'd be talking about an overtime game.

But we're not.

We're talking about a 113-110 Maverick win over the Spurs after the home team surrendered an 18-point lead that still stood at 16 midway through the second quarter but was completely lost in a 30-19 run by the visitors in the fourth.

Or maybe the Spur fans were still thinking about the 25-point lead they nearly gave up to the Los Angeles Lakers in the fifth game of their semifinal series. The Spurs led by as many as 22 points with only 1:12 left in the third quarter and came within fractions of an inch on a Robert Horry 3-pointer of actually losing that game and we'd possibly be talking about the Lakers and Mavs in this series.

But we're not.

We're talking about the same Spurs who gave up a 16-point lead to those same Lakers in the fourth game of that series after still leading by 10 with 5:33 left in the third quarter and ended up losing that game.

In one of those games, they made more free throws than their opponents. In the other, they made less. We're talking about the 12-point lead they gave up to the Phoenix Suns in the first game of their first-round series when rookie Amare Stoudemire hit an awkward 3-pointer at the end of regulation. And the 10-point lead they lost in the second game when Sun center Jake Voskuhl hit a little jumper in the key but the Spurs still won. And the 11-point lead San Antonio surrendered in the fourth game when Voskuhl hit a little jumper in the key and they lost.

In each of those three games against the Suns, the Spurs made more free throws, outscoring them 68-49 from the line combined, but still lost two of them. So far, the San Antonio Spurs lost double-digit leads in three of their six first-round games, nearly gave up a 25-point lead in the next round and completely lost an 18-point lead so far in the current series that is only one game old.

The easy part is saying that this time it was about the free throws.

The hard part, at least for Popovich, is trying to figure out what it will be next time.

Fourth and long, Spurs need cure
Ken Rodriguez / San Antonio Express-News