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Homecourt Advantage Vanishes

By Daniel Strickland on April 23, 2007.

Poof. Just like that, the Spurs (and the Mavericks*) lost their homecourt advantage yesterday.

Mr. Robot Face must screw head back on. (Jerry Lara/ Express-News)

The good news is that the Spurs kept it close against the Nuggets, and came back to within two in the closing seconds, despite having a truly atrocious shooting day. I doubt that Iverson and Anthony will play this well again against the Spurs.

How awful was their shooting? About three minutes into the second quarter, the Spurs were down 22-24, despite the fact that Duncan was 1 of 6, Parker was 1 of 4 and Ginobili was 1 of 9. By the end of the first half, the Spurs were still down by just a basket, 42-44, yet the big three were a combined 7 of 33 – Duncan was 2 of 11, Parker was 2 of 10 and Ginobili was 3 of 12. The team as a whole shot 33% and still only trailed by two. Unbelievable.

No, you can’t have it. (Gloria Ferniz/ Express-News)

The Spurs stayed in it for two reasons: bench points and points off turnovers. The Spurs bench deserves all the credit for making this game competitive.

This was the first NBA game my wife had ever watched from start to finish, and she was disappointed to say the least. She kept asking me why the big three seemed to miss all their shots, and I didn’t have a good answer.

Maybe they were looking ahead, more concerned about facing the Phoenix Suns in the second round. Maybe the time off Popovich gave them did “more harm than good.” Or maybe they just needed a wakeup call.

The regular season is over and now is the time that counts. Maybe the big three just needed to be reminded of what is at stake. We all recall the 2005 championship season, when the Spurs lost their first playoff game to the Nuggets at home, then won their next four to win the series, 4-1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened this year.

We’ve been here, but I still hate it,” Ginobili said. “I’m not going to get confident because we’ve done it before. We are very upset.”

Now to take a page from Michael’s playbook …

Your three stars

Parker and Duncan managed to salvage decent stat lines, 19-6-8 and 14-10-7 respectively, and played with urgency down the stretch, but you have to put this loss squarely on their shoulders. Your three stars kept the Spurs in the game when the big three were nowhere to be found.

3. Fabricio Oberto – for providing energy off the bench and making a baseline fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to end the first quarter, shooting 4 of 4 and grabbing six boards in 15 quality minutes

2. Michael Finley – for keeping us in it in the first half, scoring 15, including 3 of 7 from behind the arc

1. Robert Horry – for a big three followed by a monster dunk in the second, a give-and-go lefthanded dunk in the fourth quarter, and playing tough despite his age, scoring 14 in just under 25 minutes

* The Mavericks looked vulnerable against the Warriors, losing 97-85, and likely have a long and painful series to look forward to. Two weeks ago, I said: “Baron Davis & Co have a decent chance of taking the ‘Ricks to six games. And what’s bad for the Mavs is good for the Spurs.”

Of the three lower-seeded teams that won this weekend, fans think that the Nuggets have the “best chance of pulling off the first-round upset.” We’ll see about that.

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