Pistons introduce Manu to earth
In the first 22 seconds, Manu Ginobili made a bad pass and committed an offensive foul, in the process hurting himself. From there, the night hardly improved for Manu.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Manu Ginobili is the next superstar. Manu Ginobili is the MVP of the Finals. Manu Ginobili saved a drowning puppy and cured cancer.
After his dominating efforts in the first two games of the Finals, we were overwhelmed by a torrent of Manu-mania. But we should have known better. Ginobili scored 26 and 27 points in the first two games, which was certainly impressive. But can you guess how many times he had consecutive games of 26 of more in the season's first 98 games?
Zero. And keep in mind, this was against the run of the mill NBA competition -- not a defense of Detroit's outstanding caliber.
Translation: We should have expected a letdown in Game 3, because Manu was playing over his head. Tuesday's lopsided defeat provided the reality check, as the recently anointed star fell back to earth with nearly as many turnovers (six) as points (seven). Ginobili got off to a bad start right from the get-go, injuring his thigh in a collision with Tayshaun Prince early in the first quarter. He ended it even worse, failing to score a point after halftime.
Nonetheless, Manu's rough night was the result of much more than just an early bump. Ginobili certainly didn't beat around the bush in his post-game analysis.
"I just didn't play well," he said. "I didn't make shots. I turned the ball over a lot. That's it."
And the leg? "I'm all right. Just one of those things that happens every other game."
Of course, Ginobili wasn't competing in any empty gym. Detroit improved its tactics against Ginobili after playing back on its heels in the first two games.
"One thing we tried to do was pressure him," Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said. "We think that we want to turn him into a jump shooter and just kept backing off of him. Tonight, we kept the pressure on."
As a result, Ginobili wasn't allowed to dribble by himself up top while he sized up the defense and contemplate his next move. Instead, he had to contend with ball pressure from Hamilton or Prince.
The Pistons finally paid attention to Ginobili, and bottled him up.
It meant that sometimes Ginobili slipped past the first defender, but since Ginobili couldn't choose the moment he rarely had teammates in the right spots when help defenders arrived.
Not that Game 3 was indicative of Ginobili's real ability. While 26-point nights aren't the norm for Ginobili, neither are six-turnover train wrecks. Those just represent the two extremes of his normal performance level. Unfortunately, we tend to overreact to nearly everything we see in a short series, and this was no exception.
Ginobili is a fine player and a worthy All-Star selection, but as Game 3 showed, we needn't mint that MVP trophy just yet.
On aggressive drives like this one, Ginobili looked like himself. But he wasn't, as his stat line reveals: seven points, six turnovers.
Gregg Popovich made a mistake at the end of the third quarter when he took Tony Parker out of the game. He was trying to get his point guard a blow and ended up blowing the game.
Once Parker was off the floor, the Spurs seemed to lose their way offensively. They threw the ball away a couple of times and let the Pistons go on a 9-2 run to end the third quarter.
At the time I'm sure Pop was thinking that he would just get Parker some rest and protect him from further foul trouble, but at that point Parker was the offensive spark for this team. Taking him out was the turning point for the Pistons' Game 3 win.
Tim Legler, from The Palace of Auburn Hills
Yes, Ben Wallace set the tone Tuesday night, but it was Antonio McDyess who provided the exclamation point.
Detroit's primary frontcourt reserve was outstanding for the second straight game, scoring 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbing nine boards in just 19 minutes.
While other Pistons drew the spotlight, it was McDyess who made four buckets in the third and fourth quarter run that put the game away. And it was McDyess whose offensive rebound set up a Richard Hamilton jumper to put Detroit up 84-69 with six minutes left, removing any doubt regarding the outcome.
The McDyess D on Duncan was a key for the Pistons.
Additionally, McDyess made an even greater contribution on defense. He spent the bulk of his 19 minutes on the floor guarding Tim Duncan, and consistently forced the Spurs' star to move a step farther than usual from the hoop and shoot over an outstretched arm. As a result, Duncan shot a very mortal 5-for-15.
McDyess even got under the normally unflappable Duncan's skin. After McDyess forced a turnover on a Duncan drive in which the Big Fundamental thought he was fouled, Duncan picked up a rare technical foul after he fouled Tayshaun Prince at the other end.
As a result of McDyess' exploits at both ends of the floor, the Pistons now have a chance to even up the series Thursday -- provided they can keep the Diceman rolling.
John Hollinger, from The Palace of Auburn Hills
Play of the Day
Quote of the Night
Chris Ramsay, in Auburn Hills
Slammin'! Ben Wallace let the 'fro flow and went wild Tuesday night after weeks of subpar play.
Tim Duncan shot 5-for-15 from the field (33 percent), his lowest field-goal percentage in the 14 NBA Finals games he's played.
Prior to Tuesday's game, Duncan's career field-goal percentage in the Finals was 50.8 percent and his worst mark in any game was 43.5 percent (10-for-23) in Game 4 against the Nets in 2003.
Elias Sports Bureau
The very first thing the Spurs did on Tuesday night was throw the ball away.
Ben Wallace stole a bad pass by Manu Ginobili and slammed home a dunk four seconds into the first quarter, and that play established the pattern for Game 3.
"They did a great job of forcing turnovers. Overall, that was our demise," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs finished with 18 turnovers leading to 23 Piston points.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the Spurs got killed on the offensive glass as well by the Wallaces and Antonio McDyess. Detroit had 17 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points.
Popovich called his team's failure to value the ball and take care of their rebounding the "double-whammy."
Chris Ramsay, in Auburn Hills
Two major reasons the Spurs lost this game so decisively:
One, the Pistons came out with a totally different energy level defensively and the Spurs didn't respond well.
Detroit's increased defensive pressure forced the Spurs to play a little bit quicker. That took the Spurs out of their comfort zone and led to 18 turnovers.
Two, the Spurs didn't respond very well to the high level of activity by the Pistons' front line.
The past two games the Pistons' front line has played passively and enabled the Spurs' frontcourt of Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen and Nazr Mohammed to dominate them.
This time the Spurs didn't seem to understand that the Pistons were going to come out and play ferociously, and they laid an egg.
Tim Legler, in Auburn Hills
For the first time in this series the Pistons' backcourt won the battle against the Spurs backcourt.
When Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton get it going like they did in Game 3, this team is tough to stop. They got it done on both ends of the court with excellent defense and fantastic offense.
These two guys worked completely in tandem. Hamilton led this team through the early going and kept them in control with big shot after big shot. Then it was time for Billups to take over late, and he did so with patience, as he picked his spots to drive and shoot so as not to kill any of the momentum the team had accrued.
Greg Anthony, in Auburn Hills