San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan goes up for two points against Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace, left and Antonio McDyess in the first quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, June 19, 2005.
AP Photos/Paul Sancya
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Big Shot Bob did it again.
Robert Horry, the veteran player whose clutch postseason 3-pointers have defined his career, knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime Sunday night to give the San Antonio Spurs a 96-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The Spurs took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, bouncing back from a pair of lopsided losses to defeat the defending champs in their own building and send the series back to San Antonio needing just one more victory for their third title in seven years.
Horry inbounded from the left sideline near midcourt with 9.4 seconds left, finding Manu Ginobili in the corner. Detroit's defenders collapsed on Ginobili and left Horry wide-open for the return pass.
Bad idea, as so many of Horry's opponents have learned in the past.
''Manu cut to the basket and Rasheed bit,'' Horry said. ''I've been shooting it pretty good so I just let it fly.''
Detroit had one final chance after Horry's shot, but Richard Hamilton missed a runner from the lane and Bruce Bowen rebounded to end it, allowing the Spurs to run off jubilant.
After four blowouts, this was the type of game everyone had been waiting almost two weeks to see an intense, closely-fought nail-biter befitting of a championship series. The fourth quarter was close throughout, with clutch shots coming from Billups and Hamilton for the Pistons, and Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili of San Antonio.
The player who wasn't hitting the big ones was two-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, who missed six straight foul shots and a putback at the end of the fourth quarter that would have won it for the Spurs.
Duncan also missed San Antonio's first two shots of overtime and lost control of an entry pass with 56 seconds left in the extra period with Detroit ahead 95-93.
An offensive rebound gave Detroit two possessions while running down the final minute of overtime, but before Billups missed on a drive with 9.4 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Horry knocked down the 3 that won it.
Asked what the difference was in this particular game, a relieved looking Duncan turned to Horry and said: ''Big-shot Bob.''
Horry, trying to join John Salley as the only players in NBA history to win championships with three different teams, has reached the playoffs in all 13 of his NBA seasons and has built a reputation for knocking down huge 3-pointers.
The Pistons were ahead 87-85 before Horry caught a pass and quickly launched a 3-pointer that dropped through with 1:17 left in regulation, giving him seven straight points for the Spurs. Duncan had a chance to extend the lead after Hamilton missed a jumper, but the career 69 percent foul shooter missed a pair from the line with 1 minute remaining.
Billups scored on another of his crafty drives to give Detroit an 89-88 lead, and the Pistons fouled Duncan when he got the ball down low on the next possession. With the crowd noise at its loudest of the series, Duncan missed the first foul shot making him 0-for-6 in the period but made the second.
San Antonio's best defender, forward Bruce Bowen, took over the defense against Billups on the next possession, and there appeared to be contact as Billups drove the lane and missed. But no foul was called, and San Antonio got the ball back with 16.9 seconds left able to hold for the last shot.
Ginobili dribbled the clock down and drove on Tayshaun Prince, but missed the shot. Duncan was there for the rebound, grabbed the ball with two hands and had a wide-open chance for an easy putback, but his shot somehow came up short to send the game to overtime, and Duncan walked off with his hands balled into fists covering his mouth. Game 6 will be Tuesday night, and Game 7, if necessary, on Thursday.
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