- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2003

SAN ANTONIO — For much of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets, the San Antonio Spurs looked like Tim Duncan and a bunch of other guys.

That wasn’t the case last night when the Spurs used a decapitating 19-0 fourth-quarter run to win their second NBA championship in five years, defeating the Nets 88-77 in Game 6.

Duncan, the series MVP, showcased his unique abilities, finishing just two blocks shy of a quadruple double. Along with his eight blocks, Duncan had 21 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. But the Spurs, who outscored the Nets 31-14 in the fourth, got contributions from all over the place and won despite a lackluster start to the game.

Retiring center David Robinson, 37, finished his 14-year career with a great effort, scoring 13 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Robinson left the game to a standing ovation with 35.6 to play, replaced by Kevin Willis, who at 40 was a part of a championship team for the first time. Stephen Jackson finished with 17 points, and his dead-eye 3-point shooting — he made three on the night — was crucial.

Reserve guard Speedy Claxton stepped in for struggling Tony Parker to finish with 13 points and eight assists.

“I’m thrilled that David could end his career with a game like that,” San Antonio coach Dave Popovich said. “His effort was wonderful. He dug down deep to show how important this game was to him. And Tim played like an MVP. It was really special to see David play like that because he can’t do it like that every night.”

Robinson said afterward he had prayed about this moment with his wife and was ready for his last game.

“My last game, streamers flying,” he said. “I’ve had some ups and downs in my career, but this is the highest high. I’m just celebrating the finish of the first phase of my career.”

Jason Kidd, who will become a free agent this summer and could wind up in San Antonio next season, had 21 points and seven assists for the Nets, who made just 38.5 percent of their shots.

“I didn’t know they were on a 19-0 run until after the game,” Kidd said. “We lost our composure. We had control of the game, had it in hand. I think they made a few plays in the fourth quarter that might have broken our composure.”

Said Duncan: “This is great for our fans and great for us to win it at home. A lot of guys stepped it up tonight when we needed them to. A lot of guys stepped up and helped us get stops when we needed them. A lot of guys contributed.”

The Nets went 5:31 without a point after Rodney Rogers hit a 3-pointer with 8:55 left, a lethal stretch that assured the Nets they would not become the first road team in finals history to win Games 6 and 7 after falling behind 3-2.

Kenyon Martin, who last year attacked Keith Van Horn for not showing up in the finals when the Nets were swept by the Lakers, was just 3-for-23 from the floor and finished with six points. Martin had been battling flu-like symptoms the latter half of the series.

The Nets, who led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, held off a nice charge by the Spurs and still led by 69-59 early in the fourth quarter.

But rather than let the Nets get off easy, San Antonio made its final push of the night. Trailing by 72-63 after Rogers’ 3, the Spurs started the 19-0 run with a pair of free throws from Malik Rose. By the time the Nets took a timeout after Claxton scored to give the Spurs a 77-72 lead with 5:21 left, the SCB Center was so loud with the pulsating chant of “Go Spurs go!” that anything screamed by New Jersey coach Byron Scott to his players had to be almost inaudible.

It didn’t matter. The Nets had no fight left. They finally got another basket when Kidd drilled an 18-footer to pull them within 82-74.

If there has been one criticism of the Spurs in these playoffs it has been that they have not handled success well.

After their best shooting game of the series yielded a decisive Game 5 victory Friday in New Jersey, the Spurs came out and sleepwalked their way through the first quarter.

The Spurs made just 37.5 percent of their shots in the opening quarter. By contrast, New Jersey played with a sense of urgency. Their biggest lead early was 19-10, mostly because the Nets were able to get to the basket easier than they had at any other point in the series.

That was most evident on the final basket of the quarter, a putback slam by Richard Jefferson of a long jumper by Martin.

Jefferson paced the Nets with 10 points in the first quarter but missed all four of his field goals in the second.

The Nets did a good job of keeping the Spurs’ fans out of the game by building the lead.

However, the Spurs started to gain some momentum in the later stages of the second quarter as Duncan continued to do most of the damage. Once again played straight up by the physical Martin, Duncan led the Spurs with seven points in the quarter.

Down 38-32, Duncan sandwiched a basket between two by Robinson to pull the Spurs even with the Nets for the first time in the half with 39.9 seconds left.

The Nets struggled in the second quarter when they made just six of 18 field goals. However, the Nets did connect on three 3-pointers in the first half. And their last, by Kidd, gave them a 41-38 edge at halftime.

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