Horry's game-winning 3-pointer gives Spurs series edge

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Robert Horry was all set to cut
through the lane after inbounding the ball with 9.6 seconds left
when a strange thing happened -- extremely strange, actually,
considering his postseason history.

Rasheed Wallace suddenly went to double-team Manu Ginobili in
the corner, leaving no one within 15 feet of one of the best clutch
shooters in NBA postseason history.

Bad idea. Very bad.

"I saw Rasheed bite and said: 'Oh, let me stay out here,' "
Horry said after he knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer with 5.8
seconds remaining in overtime Sunday night to give San Antonio a
96-95 victory over Detroit in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Horry, the veteran dubbed "Big Shot Bob" whose clutch
postseason 3-pointers have defined his career, gave the Spurs a 3-2
lead in the best-of-seven series. San Antonio bounced back from a
pair of lopsided losses to defeat the defending champs in their own
building and send the series back to Texas needing just one more
victory for a third title in seven years.

"The play was for me to take that shot, but then I saw Rasheed
coming," Ginobili said "My first option in those moments was
Robert. He's a winner. He's been in that situation so many times.
Everyone knows what he does."

The Pistons had one final chance after Horry's shot, but Richard Hamilton missed a runner from the lane and Bruce Bowen rebounded to
end it.

After four blowouts, this was the type of game everyone had been
waiting almost two weeks to see -- an intense, closely-fought
nail-biter befitting of a championship series. The fourth quarter
was close throughout, with clutch shots coming from Chauncey
Billups and Hamilton for the Pistons, and Horry and Ginobili of San

The player who wasn't hitting the big ones was two-time NBA
Finals MVP Tim Duncan, who missed six straight foul shots and a
putback at the end of the fourth quarter that would have won it for
the Spurs.

"An absolute nightmare, yes," Duncan said. "[Horry] pulled me
out of an incredible hole that I put myself in."

Game 6 will be Tuesday night, and Game 7, if necessary, on

The Pistons haven't won in San Antonio since 1997, and the Spurs
had the NBA's best regular-season home record.

Horry finished with 21 points, Duncan had 26 points and 19
rebounds, Ginobili scored 15 and Tony Parker 14. Billups led
Detroit with 34 points.

"It was the kind of game where you hate to see anybody lose,"
Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

Of the prior 23 times a finals series has been tied 2-2, the
Game 5 winner has gone on to win the title 17 times. The most
recent time it has happened was 2003, when San Antonio defeated New
Jersey. A game 5 loser won following a 2-2 tie most recently in
1994, when the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in
Games 6 and 7.

Duncan also missed San Antonio's first two shots of overtime and
lost control of an entry pass with 56 seconds left in the extra
period with Detroit ahead 95-93.

An offensive rebound gave Detroit two possessions while running
down the final minute of overtime, but Billups missed on a drive
with 9.4 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Horry knocked down the
3 that won it.

"You can't go back and say shoulda, woulda, coulda. It was
caught in the corner and I just tried to double. Now we have a day
and a half. We're cool," Wallace said.

The late 3 wasn't the only big shot by Horry, whose offensive
poise was a direct contrast to Duncan's troubles.

The Pistons were ahead 87-85 before Horry caught a pass and
quickly launched a 3-pointer that dropped through with 1:17 left in
regulation, giving him seven straight points for the Spurs. Duncan
had a chance to extend the lead after Hamilton missed a jumper, but
the career 69 percent foul shooter missed a pair from the line with
1 minute remaining.

Billups scored on another of his crafty drives to give Detroit
an 89-88 lead, and the Pistons fouled Duncan when he got the ball
down low on the next possession. With the crowd noise at its
loudest of the series, Duncan missed the first foul shot -- making
him 0-for-6 in the period -- but made the second.

San Antonio's best defender, forward Bruce Bowen, took over
guarding Billups on the next possession, and there appeared to be
contact as Billups drove the lane and missed. But no foul was
called, and San Antonio got the ball back with 16.9 seconds left
able to hold for the last shot of regulation.

Ginobili dribbled the clock down and drove on Tayshaun Prince,
but missed. Duncan was there for the rebound, grabbed the ball with
two hands and had a wide-open chance for an easy putback, but his
shot somehow came up short. He walked off with his hands balled
into fists covering his mouth.

Coach Gregg Popovich said he spent 90 percent of his preparation
time focusing on the mental aspect of what his team needed to do,
the other 10 percent on X's and O's. The Spurs were much more
aggressive in terms of taking the ball to the basket -- the one
things they had done best in the first two games -- and Ginobili was
especially effective in the early going.

Billups had a pair of airballs early in the third quarter, one
of which hit the supports behind the backboard, but he came back
with a long jumper and a three-point play in transition for a
personal 6-0 run that tied it at 61-all before Horry ended the
quarter with a 3-pointer -- a preview of what was to come.

Game notes
Officials Ron Garretson, Steve Javie and Mike Callahan
worked Game 5. The Pistons are 0-5 in the playoffs with Garretson
on the court. ... Recording star Kid Rock sang "America the
Beautiful" a capella while wearing a vintage Rick Mahorn warmup
jersey. He closed the song with a shout of "Let's rock!" before
putting his black hat back on and giving a satisfied nod to the
crowd, which ate it up.