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Credit Carlesimo with the assist for Spurs' zone D

6/14/2003 - San Antonio Spurs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The San Antonio Spurs' Game 5 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals is the result of a perfect marriage of technology, defense and bench play.

Spurs coach Greg Popovich has stated that he doesn't like the zone defense and that the only reason he employs it is because of his assistant coach P.J. Carlisemo. Apparently, Carlisemo's past as a former college coach makes him a proponent of the zone and he's forced the zone into the Spurs' repertoire during the Finals.

If the zone keeps befuddling the Nets as it did Friday night, the Spurs may have to give P.J. a bigger playoff share.

To complement Carlisemo's suggestion, the Spurs utilized videotape of the Nets against various zones -- Dallas' and Utah's, in particular -- and schemed a plan to take advantage of the Nets' weaknesses. After watching the tape, they found that the Nets were generally unsuccessful attacking the middle of the zone and weren't good enough jump shooters to stop the zone.

But as much as defense helps, you need some offense to win games and the Spurs received it from all sources.

Tim Duncan continued his fabulous play, scoring 29 points and collecting 17 rebounds, but his teammates helped push the Spurs over the top. From the bench, the Spurs received 35 points and nine rebounds while only turning the ball over twice. They did a great job of coming in and doing wonderful spot work for the Spurs.

Emanuel Ginobili did an outstanding job of infusing the team with energy. He scored 12 points, grabbed three rebounds and made two steals in 26 minutes of play. Malik Rose went from 0-for-9 in Game 4 to 6-of-9 from the field in Game 5 with 14 points and three rebounds. And even Steve Kerr came in at the end of the game and contributed with six points, a key steal and a 3-pointer that sealed the game.

Those are the types of contributions that make NBA champions. Now, the Spurs are one game away from adding another championship banner to the rafters of the SBC Center.

Dr. Jack Ramsay, who is an NBA analyst for ESPN, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.