San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, the most mechanically precise power forward ever, chased down the rebound as it bounced toward the courtside swells, grabbed it, whirled and threw up a 17-footer. Swish.
And if his shot hadn’t come after the horn ending the third quarter, it would’ve rivaled Tony Parker’s Game 1 Globetrotter dribble-bank shot as the series highlight. But, appropriate for Duncan’s night, his best moment didn’t count.
Duncan’s offensive statistic line from this 103-84 Heat win was as dowdy as his flannel-and-jeans Game 1 postgame attire: 3 of 13 from the field, 9 points, one assist, in 30 minutes.
The 37-year-old Duncan ended the night stapled to the bench with 35-year-old Manu Ginobili for the final 10 minutes. Once the Heat’s bulge exceeded 15 early in the fourth, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich virtually conceded the game and gave his oldest regulars the rest of the night off.
“Credit to Miami. They outplayed us. They ended quarters better than us,” Duncan said. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot well. I know I played awfully. Whatever it may be, they responded better than us.”
Asked what the Heat did to unplug Duncan, along with Ginobili and point guard Tony Parker, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “I really don’t know. They’re great players. Duncan made a lot of those shots last game. We tried to keep a body on them as much as possible, make them work for it.
“They do such a great job of moving the ball. You’ve got to be great and early.”
Popovich, about the Spurs’ top threesome shooting a combined 10 for 33 said, “Defense has something to do with it. Just missing shots has something to do with it. No matter how you slice it, it’s 10 for 33. Missing shots and turning it over is a bad combination.”
In Game 1, Duncan recovered from missing his first five shots to do as he pleased against Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen. Duncan scored over Bosh and Haslem. He backed down Andersen, backed over Andersen. From zero for five, Duncan hit eight of his next 14 and finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
Sunday started in the same arrhythmic way for Duncan: one for his first five in the first quarter with three misses right around the hoop. And then it continued, whether Andersen, Haslem or Bosh was on him.
“Nothing major,” Bosh said when asked what the Heat adjusted on Duncan from Game 1. “We just wanted to keep making him work as much as possible. He’s much too good down in the post to play behind him. We just wanted to give him a bunch of different looks. We know what type of player he is and how they’re going to respond.
In the third quarter, Duncan fired four shots from the left wing. That’s the shot that’ll send Duncan to the Hall of Fame. Clank, clank, clank, clank.
“I looked at my shots,” Duncan said. “They’re the shots I want. Obviously, they’re contested shots, but they’re shots I feel that I can make. Whether it be them or me, whatever it may be, get back in the gym tomorrow and come out with a better stroke.”