EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The San Antonio Spurs were able to win Game 3 of the NBA Finals despite playing a sloppy game and repeating some of the same mistakes that cost them Game 2 last Friday.
And they can thank Tony Parker for this win. Parker did a great job of taking over in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points and leading the Spurs to an 84-79 victory over the Nets. Parker's heroics weren't limited to just the final period. During the second half, he hit four 3-pointers and played great defense on Jason Kidd. His defense on Kidd was a major key because, as Kidd goes, so go the Nets.
But Spurs coach Gregg Popovich still can't be happy with the way his team played Sunday regardless of the final score. In Game 2, the Spurs were plagued with turnovers and poor free-throw shooting. These two problems were the main cause -- along with Kidd's dominating performace -- for the loss. The Spurs made it a mantra to overcome these problems and play a much tighter Game 3. Instead, they merely repeated them against the Nets on the road.
The Spurs gave up 17 turnovers and only shot 65.7 percent from the line. They also suffered from another less-than-complete game from Tim Duncan. The league MVP finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds but still appeared flustered by the varying looks the Nets threw at him defensively when he received the ball in the paint. This confusion contributed to his game-high five turnovers.
On top of all this, the Spurs also gave up 21 fastbreak points, which is the antithesis of what they are trying to accomplish. The Spurs have done a very good job of not allowing the Nets many fastbreak points. But on Sunday night, the Nets often were able to run to their hearts' content.
For the Spurs to give up that many fastbreak points and still win is almost a blessing. But they did some things right. For one, their role players stepped up and played very well. Emanuel Ginobili and Malik Rose contributed with eight points each to keep the offense from becoming stagnant.
But if the Spurs continue to be sloppy with the ball and miss free throws at this clip, they'll be sitting home this summer wondering, "What happened?"
Dr. Jack Ramsay, who is an NBA analyst for ESPN, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.