Duncan tries his best, but he can't carry Spurs to win

5/23/2006 - San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The grind of a long series finally showed on Tim Duncan.

It was overtime Monday in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, and the leader of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs was limping up and down the court.

After scoring 41 points, absorbing enough fouls from the Dallas Mavericks to send him to the line 23 times and playing nearly 50 minutes, San Antonio finally limped off with him.

Duncan was just 1-of-7 from the floor in overtime, and the Spurs will not successfully defend their NBA title after a 119-111 loss to Dallas.

"Timmy cramped up at the end of the game -- he definitely was tired," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "We used him the whole game."

Duncan played 49 minutes, 33 seconds, just a second less than Dirk Nowitzki and almost two minutes more than any other Spurs player.

Despite finishing the regular season with the lowest scoring average of his career, Duncan found his game against the Mavericks. He had averaged 30 points in the first six games of the series after finishing the regular season with 18 per game.

Even before Duncan's unproductive overtime, he missed his most important shot as the clock expired in regulation. He couldn't give the Spurs the win when he failed to make a follow-up basket at the buzzer after grabbing the offensive rebound on a missed layup by Manu Ginobili.

"I get a tip on that last rebound, this series is over and they're the ones going home," Duncan said.

It was the second time Duncan missed a last-second shot that would have won the game during the series. He missed a fallaway jumper in the lane that allowed Game 4 to go to overtime, which the Mavericks won to take a 3-1 lead.

In Game 7, Duncan said he thought he was fouled from behind as Nowitzki defended.

"We had the worst first half since I've been here, the five years I've been here. It was just weird."
Tony Parker

"That situation, they're [the referees] not going to make that call," Duncan said. "At that point you think they're going to let the players decide it, and that's what they did.

"Although I would loved to have a foul right there, I can't fault the refs for letting us decide a series we fought so hard for."

The Mavericks scored 64 points in the first half. The effort it took for the Spurs to come back from the big deficit showed.

"In overtime, we didn't have much left in the tank," Duncan said. "They just shot the ball incredibly in the first half. It caused us to close out a little harder and get up on their [outside] shot, and they went to the rim."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the first half the worst the team had played this season. His players took their judgment another step.

"We had the worst first half since I've been here, the five years I've been here," Parker said. "It was just weird."

It's the first time the Spurs have lost to Dallas in the postseason. San Antonio defeated Dallas 4-1 in the Western Conference semifinals in 2001, then advanced to the NBA Finals in 2003 on the way to another championship after knocking out the Mavs 4-2 in the West finals.