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Happy Birthday, Big Fundamental

By Daniel Strickland on April 26, 2007.

Yesterday was Tim Duncan’s 31st birthday. To celebrate the occasion, his San Antonio Spurs managed to lose a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter against an NBA playoff team with Eduardo Najera in the rotation.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Najera, and the rest of the Nuggets. I just didn’t think we would be playing them in late April. And I was still stinging from the close loss in game one. More than anything else, I wanted to see the Nuggets humiliated, for the Spurs to give Tim a big Nuggets ass-whooping for his birthday.

I thought Michael Finley was wrapping up the gift by making a jumper with 8:01 left to make it 82-65, Spurs by 17. Then Kleiza, Hillario, Camby, Carmelo, Blake, and of course, Iverson, took turns in a 23-9 Nuggets scoring barrage that got the Nuggets to within three, down just 88-91 with 45 seconds left to play.

Tim was not going to let George Karl’s young team spoil his party. He put his foot down with a patented off-the-glass jump shot and a defensive rebound that stopped the Nuggets in their tracks.

Some Spurs fans, myself included, and at least one journalist, had to wonder whether the fourth quarter collapse indicated a lack of focus or mental toughness on the part of San Antonio. Tim waived off any suspicions in the postgame interview.

We won the game. That’s all that matters.

They’re a heck of a scoring team and they’re going to make a run. That’s just how the NBA is. Teams don’t give up. Teams don’t lay down.”

Ok, ok, Tim, you’re right. A win is a win. I should be happy. And I am.

I guess I might be a bit anxious if it weren’t for the fact that everyone knows that the team has played two subpar games, and your teammates know how they can improve (video link).

“Of course, I would have preferred to win by 20, but it’s not gonna be easy. Nothing’s going to be easy against these guys.”
— Manu Ginobili

“It wasn’t a case of ‘Oh-oh, here we go again,’ as much as ‘Come on now, let’s tighten things up.’ In the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters we didn’t do a good job of sustaining the things we wanted to accomplish.”
— Bruce Bowen

“They are better defensively than we thought. They’re collapsing in the paint against me and Tony, but if we’re smart, we’ll pass out to Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen and Brent Barry in the corners and they’ll be able to score a lot of points.”
— Manu Ginobili

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