- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY — Foul after foul, free throw after free throw, the San Antonio Spurs won Game 4 of the Western Conference finals the hard way.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili took the brunt of the blows and made enough foul shots in the fourth quarter to lift San Antonio past a valiant Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz 91-79 last night, giving the Spurs a 3-1 series lead.

“I’m very proud of what we did in the fourth quarter because it was looking ugly for us,” said Ginobili, who scored 22 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, after scoring only 14 the previous game. “We stepped up and did a really good job.”

This was the first game of the series still in doubt in the fourth quarter, causing tempers to flare and bodies to fly. The Jazz got four technical fouls down the stretch, including the ejection of coach Jerry Sloan and usually mild-mannered Derek Fisher. Utah fans — seeing their team lose at home for the first time in eight games this postseason — showed their disgust by hurling things toward the court, appearing to hit San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen with something small.

The biggest blow, though, is to the Jazz’s comeback hopes. After a 26-point win in Game 3, Utah felt good about its chances to pull off a comeback but now will have to win Game 5 in San Antonio tomorrow night just to bring the series back to Salt Lake City. The Jazz have lost 18 straight games in San Antonio dating to 1999.

“We’ve got to stay humble,” Ginobili said. “If we win Game 5, it’s because we play hard and fight through it. We know these guys are not going to give us anything. It’s going to be another tough battle.”

The Spurs went into the fourth ahead by one and never gave up the advantage. They protected it by going 19-for-25 from the foul line, with Ginobili shooting 11-for-13 and Duncan 5-for-8.

“We just couldn’t keep them off the free throw line,” Sloan said. Asked about all the technicals, he said: “I don’t want to talk about those because all that does is give me more trouble.”

Duncan finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and five turnovers. Fabricio Oberto had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Tony Parker had his worst game of the series with 17 points, two assists and three turnovers.

This ugly-but-effective performance — more free throws (30) than field goals (28) — puts the Spurs within a victory of reaching the NBA Finals for the third time in five years and the fourth time since 1999. San Antonio has won the title each time.

“It could’ve been a tied series and a whole new ballgame,” Duncan said. “It’s a great position to be in.”

Williams had 27 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes despite fighting a stomach ailment for two days. He was so good through three quarters that pregame reminders of Michael Jordan overcoming illness to have a huge game against the Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals — made even by Sloan — no longer seemed silly.

But Williams didn’t get enough help. Carlos Boozer had 18 points and nine rebounds, but nobody else scored more than nine points.

After three lopsided games, this one got tight midway through the third quarter, starting with Boozer stuffing Duncan on a drive to the rim.

Duncan went down and lingered on the court while Boozer made a jumper on the other end, this time leaving Ginobili on the ground. Parker missed a layup, then Williams dribbled up the court and nailed a jumper at the foul line with Duncan backing up, daring him to shoot.

Utah went into the fourth quarter down 63-62 and was within 67-66 a few minutes later. Then Ginobili hit a 3-pointer, Williams went miss-turnover-miss on the Jazz’s next three possessions and the Spurs soon were up by six points. The Jazz never got closer than four.

San Antonio was up 79-72 when Ginobili got fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 3:57 left. He made all three, and Utah’s hopes were flickering out.

The Spurs led at halftime like they have every game this series, this time 50-42.

Both teams shot 46 percent, but the Spurs were helped by having seven more rebounds, and the Jazz were hurt by a lack of contributions from their supporting cast. There were only four baskets by anyone other than Williams and Boozer and no player had more than one. The bright side for Utah was that one was from Mehmet Okur, who hadn’t hit a shot since the third quarter of Game 2.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide