San Antonio wins series 4-3 (Game 2 of 7)

San Antonio wins series 4-3

Game 1: Thursday, June 9th
Game 2: Sunday, June 12th
Game 3: Tuesday, June 14th
Game 4: Thursday, June 16th
Game 5: Sunday, June 19th
Game 6: Tuesday, June 21st
Game 7: Thursday, June 23rd

Pistons 76

(54-28, 22-19 away)

Spurs 97

(59-23, 38-3 home)

8:00 PM ET, June 12, 2005

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

1 2 3 4 T
DET 19 23 21 1376
SA 30 28 21 1897

Top Performers

Det: A. McDyess 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

SA: M. Ginobili 27 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Stl

Defending champs never lead

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The faintest of chants rang out midway through the fourth quarter as Manu Ginobili was hitting the foul shots that would repel Detroit's final charge.

Pistons when trailing in playoff series under Larry Brown
Series Deficit Next Game
'05 vs. Spurs 1-0 Lost by 21
'05 vs. Heat 3-2 Won by 25
'05 vs. Heat 2-1 Won by 10
'05 vs. Pacers 2-1 Won by 13
'04 vs. Pacers 1-0 Won by 5
'04 vs. Nets 3-2 Won by 6

"MVP, MVP!" shouted a handful of fans.

If this keeps up, it'll turn into a chorus. Because without a doubt, Ginobili has been the most valuable player in the NBA Finals thus far.

Playing at a much higher level than their opponent, the San Antonio Spurs sped out to a big early lead and frustrated the Pistons the rest of the way in a 97-76 victory Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Once again, the quickness and creativity of Ginobili was the one thing that stood out. But unlike in Game 1 when Ginobili took over all by himself in the fourth quarter, this time he did it earlier --and received plenty of help.

"Of course you appreciate it, it's beautiful, but it's something none of us should be thinking," Ginobili said of the MVP chants.

Ginobili scored 27 points and had seven assists, while Tim Duncan was his usual efficient self with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Throw in Tony Parker being a speedy complement to Ginobili's dashing exploits, Bruce Bowen's 3-point shooting from his favorite spot in the corner and Robert Horry's effort plays, and this one was all but over by the time the fourth quarter began.

"Nothing's easy. I think they had a poor night shooting tonight. We played some pretty good D, but they also missed some shots. It was very physical, bodies were knocking," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Obviously Manu made a lot of 3s, Bruce made 3s, and that helps us offensively and made things look easy."

Ginobili and Bowen each had four of the Spurs' 11 3-pointers.

The Pistons did manage to pull within eight points midway through the final quarter, but Ginobili stopped them by drawing Rasheed Wallace's fifth foul and then coming up with a steal, an assist and several free throws and the lead quickly went back to 20.

Opponents had been averaging less than 86 points against the Pistons in the playoffs, but the Spurs had everything clicking so well that they reached that number with 5:44 left.

"I'm really pleased with the way they reacted to the win. It's easier to react after a loss," Popovich said. "Subconscious complacency can set in ... and you can't allow that to happen."

Only two teams in NBA history have come back from 2-0 deficits to win a championship, which couldn't have been much of a reassuring thought for the Pistons when they boarded their plane after the game and headed back to Detroit.

Game 3 is Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and the Pistons are a long way from where they were a year ago when they split the opening two games in Los Angeles before returning home and closing out the Lakers in five.

"Right now, with the way they're playing and executing, and the contributions they're getting from a lot of people, they've just dominated two ballgames," Detroit coach Larry Brown said. "Hopefully, with our crowd, we'll come out throwing the first punch and being aggressive, and we'll see."

Detroit had an 18-9 edge in offensive rebounds, but San Antonio had a 34-16 edge in foul shots and 11 steals to Detroit's five. The Pistons went 0-for-6 on 3-pointers, and no starter scored more than 14 points.

"They won on their home court, we're going to try to do the same," Billups said. "But we need to take it one quarter at a time, not one game at a time."

This one got away from the Pistons quickly.

Ginobili had a particularly spectacular stretch midway through the second quarter, executing three completely different plays that showcased the special way he sees the court.

First, he ran a give-and-go play with Parker in which the two were never closer than 15 feet and used nearly half the court. Parker was a step or two past midcourt when he hit Ginobili with a pass far on the right wing behind the 3-point line; as Parker cut hard to the basket Ginobili hit him in stride with a perfectly placed one-handed bounce pass for a layup.

Next, Ginobili drove the lane and drew two defenders before flipping the ball out to Horry for a wide-open 3-pointer. Finally, he stopped in the lane after coming around a pick, reversed direction to lose Tayshaun Prince and made a quick cut to the basket.

Parker hit him with a pass, and Ginobili dropped in a layup for a 49-31 lead.

San Antonio's lead reached 23 points in the third quarter, and Ginobili made big plays each time Detroit threatened to get within striking distance. A quick-release 3 from the left side made it 76-58, and Ginobili then passed out to Beno Udrih for a 3 that gave the Spurs a 79-63 lead entering the fourth.

Billups scored six points in a 10-2 run that made it 81-73 before Ginobili made a few more big plays to end the threat.

So frustrated were the Pistons that Brown and Billups picked up simultaneous technical fouls with 3:54 left. Ginobili hit both shots to get the lead back up to 20.

The Spurs don't expect things to be the same in Detroit.

"They're going to get inspired, they're going to play tougher. But we've been playing really well on the road, so we're very confident we can get one there," Ginobili said.

Game notes

There was no on-court pregame show as there was in Game 1 following the national anthem when Will Smith sang his new rap song. Musician Stevie Wonder will perform before Game 3 in Auburn Hills, but it will not be as close to game time as it was Thursday night. ... Parker's girlfriend, actress Eva Longoria, was in the building after missing Game 1. She sat with Tony Parker Sr. Also in attendance was longtime Spurs center David Robinson, who received a resounding applause when he was introduced along with Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 76 97
FGM-FGA 33-82 (.402) 29-62 (.468)
3PM-3PA 0-6 (.000) 11-24 (.458)
FTM-FTA 10-16 (.625) 28-34 (.824)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-45 9-36
Assists 17 23
Turnovers 14 16
Steals 5 11
Blocks 2 7
Fast Break Points 6 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (3/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 23

Top Performers

San Antonio
Antonio McDyess McDyess
Points: 15
Reb: 7
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Manu Ginobili Ginobili
Points: 27
Reb: 3
Ast: 7
Stl: 3
Blk: 0