- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — After a series of blowouts, the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs battled into overtime last night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the Spurs winning 96-95 at the Palace at Auburn Hills to take a 3-2 lead thanks to a huge 3-pointer from, who else, Robert Horry.

Horry, who has done this throughout his career, pulled the trigger on the big shot with 5.8 seconds remaining. Horry finished with 21 points and was 5-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.

Detroit’s Richard Hamilton missed a shot in the lane as time expired.

The series resumes tomorrow in San Antonio, where the Spurs were 38-3 in the regular season. This is also a place where the Pistons played like dogs in the first two games, losing by 15 and 21 points, respectively.

Tim Duncan finished with 26 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Spurs, who now have two opportunities to close out the Pistons at home

The Pistons took a 93-89 led in overtime on a basket by Tayshaun Prince and a pair of free throws from Chauncey Billups, who finished with a game-high 34 points.

However, the Spurs cut the lead to 95-93 on a Horry dunk, moments before he hit his huge shot.

Horry’s huge 3-pointer with 1:17 left in regulation gave the Spurs an 88-87 lead.

At the other end, Detroit’s Richard Hamilton was called for a foul when he nudged Duncan out of bounds.

However, Duncan missed both free throws and the Pistons called timeout with 59.3 seconds remaining.

Billups responded by driving to the basket on Bruce Bowen to give the Pistons an 89-88 lead.

Fouled at the other end with 33.8 seconds to play, Duncan made one of two free throws, tying the game 89-89.

When play resumed Bowen forced Billups into Duncan, forcing him to take an off-balance shot that the Spurs rebounded and then called timeout.

However, Manu Ginobili failed to score on a drive and Duncan failed to convert a putback as time expired.

Coach Larry Brown’s future with the Pistons has been the topic of discussion not only in Detroit but around the NBA ever since stories began to leak out of Cleveland that Brown had been offered the job of running the Cavaliers.

While talk of the move has died down as the Pistons climbed out of their 0-2 hole, Brown, who has several health issues that he says must be addressed before any decision is made, sounded as if he was still making up his mind.

“My goal is to come back,” Brown said. “I’m confident that I’ll figure out a way to be well enough to do this. And if not, you know, it’s been great. But I really haven’t thought about it nearly as much as I did maybe two weeks ago.”

The spurs served notice from the start that they were not going to be manhandled by the Pistons, leading by as many as nine points in the second quarter when they outplayed the Pistons.

Having found its identity again, the Spurs broke a 42-42 halftime tie with a 13-6 run to begin the third quarter and led 55-48 following back-to-back buckets by Bruce Bowen.

San Antonio upped the lead to 59-52 on Duncan’s lay-up at 5:51.

But Billups, the Pistons’ most consistent player throughout the playoffs, would score seven of Detroit’s next nine points to help the Pistons pull even at 61-61.

Reserve guard Lindsey Hunter sank a pair off free throws as part of an 11-2 Detroit run to give the Pistons the lead with 58.8 left in the third.

But San Antonio’s Robert Horry, who has been known to hit a big shot in crucial situations before, hit a huge 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to give San Antonio a 64-63 lead headed into the fourth quarter.

Down by 4-2 to start the game, the Pistons responded with an 11-2 run that put them ahead 13-6 and forced the Spurs to call timeout.

The Spurs would tie the game at 19-19 on Ginobili’s reverse lay-up with 1:25 left in the quarter.

Outplayed at the start of the game, San Antonio, down by a basket (23-21) at the end of the first, opened the second quarter on a 10-4 run to go ahead 31-26 on.

This was part of a larger 17-6 San Antonio flourish capped by a Devin Brown free throw that gave the Spurs some breathing room at 38-29.

But Detroit stepped up its defense for the remainder of the quarter, limiting the Spurs to just one basket — Tony Parker’s 18-foot jumper with less than 30 seconds to play — over the final 6: 34 of the half

This enabled the Pistons to closeout the half on a 14-4 run of their own and tie the game going into the second half.

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