Like they always have, Spurs sticking together to move on from heart-break of Game 6 collapse

  • Article by: JON KRAWCZYNSKI , AP Basketball Writer
  • Updated: June 19, 2013 - 7:25 PM

MIAMI — Through heartbreaking losses and hair-raising victories, through Game 7s of the NBA Finals and Game 46s of the regular season, through contract extension after contract extension, what has defined these San Antonio Spurs more than anything else is the simple fact that they stick together.

Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich have been the heart, the soul, the backbone and the brains of this operation for more than a decade. Through an unprecedented era of change and volatility, these Spurs have stayed in San Antonio, stayed together.

Coming off the most gut-wrenching defeat they have ever suffered, that unity, that togetherness, that unparalleled bond is more important now than it ever has been.

A group that thought it had seen everything the NBA could throw at it was shaken to the core when it experienced something totally new — when the Spurs gave away a five-point lead with 21 seconds to play in Game 6 against the Miami Heat and missed the chance to secure the franchise's fifth championship.

"We've never been through a situation like this," Ginobili said on Wednesday. "In 10-plus years we've been through basically everything. But I was trying to think. Not like this. So hopefully we are up to the challenge. We know that we can play better, and we have to."

Game 7 is Thursday night in Miami, only because the end of Game 6 went so horribly wrong for San Antonio.

The Spurs were up 13 points early in the fourth quarter and led 94-89 with 21 seconds to go. This team that had closed out so many of these games over the years with its cold-blooded precision was ready for perhaps its crowning achievement — dethroning LeBron James and the defending champion Heat on their home floor, no less.

The NBA was raising the yellow ropes around the court, wheeling the Larry O'Brien trophy toward the mouth of the arena and preparing the postgame celebration that was moments away.

Then James hit a 3-pointer, Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw, and Ray Allen drilled another 3 to force overtime. The Heat held on to win it and force a Game 7, and a team that has always prided itself on not letting the emotions of the moment overwhelm them looked totally defeated, totally devastated.

"Still down," Ginobili said a day later. "After a blow like that, it's not easy to get back up.

"But after 12 hours now, I feel a little better knowing that we have another chance, that we can do so many things better. And that we are in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. There's not much more than that. We are still in a great situation. We are where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season, still."

In an effort to keep the team together and not dwell on the opportunity that just slipped away, the Spurs went to dinner — together, of course — after Game 6 to share some stories and clear their heads.

"It helped," Duncan said. "It did. The other option is a bunch of us go back to our rooms and sit in our rooms and sit there by ourselves and beat yourself up. So it's always good to be around teammates and kind of get some stuff out in the open. We did exactly that.

"We'll be ready to rock."

This is not the first difficult defeat the Spurs have ever had. There was Derek Fisher's prayer of a shot with 0.4 seconds on the clock in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals. There was Ginobili's foul on Dirk Nowitzki late in Game 7 of the 2006 Western Conference semifinals that allowed the Mavericks to force overtime and eventually beat the Spurs. And there was a home loss against the Detroit Pistons in Game 6 of the 2005 NBA Finals that pushed the series to seven.

But the Spurs have never been this close to having their hands on the trophy and failed to close it out. These robotic Spurs finally let their guard down last night, showing the raw disappointment that comes with such a defeat. Ginobili, who turned the ball over eight times and couldn't convert a layup in the closing moments of overtime, took it particularly hard.

"A competitor feels it deeply, and really, really tough loss in that regard," Popovich said. "I expect Manu to feel like that after the game. But he'll be fine."

Ginobili will turn 36 in July and is in the final year of his contract. Duncan is 37 and Popovich is 64. Once again, everyone is wondering how much longer these Spurs can stick together.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle 0 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 4
Texas 0 Bottom 7th Inning
Oakland 1
Philadelphia 5 Top 8th Inning
San Diego 1
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close