- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2005

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The San Antonio Spurs are just the latest team to benefit from the late-game heroics of Robert Horry, known around the league as “Big Shot Bob.”

Horry’s 3-pointer in overtime in Sunday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals gave the Spurs a 96-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons and put them within one victory of their third title since 1999. Tonight’s Game 6 and Thursday’s seventh game, if necessary, will be played in San Antonio.

Before Sunday, arguably the biggest basket of the 13-year veteran’s career came May 26, 2002, when Horry made a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to play to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 100-99 win over Sacramento in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Just a month before that, Horry hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in the Lakers’ 92-91 series-clinching win in the first round at Portland.

While everyone else seems in awe of his exploits, Horry really isn’t all that impressed.

“You have to have the attitude that it’s only a game,” Horry said. “You take a shot, and you either make it or you miss it. So what? It isn’t life or death. It doesn’t mean my kids won’t love me when I get home if I don’t make it.”

Nobody could have anticipated Horry coming through the way he did in Game 5, which turned out to be a classic after four games in which the closest was won by 15 points and the average margin of victory was 21. Horry, who was scoreless until the final minute of the third quarter, had 18 of his 21 points and four of his five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

After losing the first two games in San Antonio, the Pistons appeared to have recaptured both the energy and defensive tenacity that helped push them to the championship last season.

But after Horry’s latest heartbreaker, the Pistons no doubt are a team full of questions today. Among them are why power forward Rasheed Wallace left Horry, whom he guarded on the inbounds pass, to double Manu Ginobili in the corner, thus leaving Horry wide open to nail the game-winner.

But of greater concern are the prospects of having to go to San Antonio — where the Spurs were 38-3 during the regular season — and win a pair of games.

And while the Pistons survived a pressure situation in the previous series with Miami by winning Game 7 on the road, Larry Brown never has won at San Antonio since becoming Detroit’s coach. In fact, the Pistons’ 10-game losing streak at San Antonio dates to 1997.

In addition to putting the Pistons’ on the brink, Horry bailed out a few of his teammates, namely Tim Duncan. After two terrible games in Detroit, Duncan rebounded with a 26-point, 19-rebound effort Sunday.

However, Duncan was shaky down the stretch, particularly at the foul line, where he was 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter. Duncan also bungled a chance to win the game in regulation when he missed a tip-in in the waning seconds.

“I’ll tell you the way it is with Rob,” a smiling Duncan said after the game. “He hangs out the entire game, doesn’t feel like playing, shows up sometimes, and you put him in in the fourth quarter of a big game, and he’s like, ‘OK, it’s time to play now.’ He just turns that on. As funny as that is, it’s true. He doesn’t want to show up until a big game.”

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