Spurs Look to Put History in Past

Jason Terry drives to the basket on the Spurs' Tim Duncan.
Jason Terry drives to the basket on the Spurs' Tim Duncan. "We've had no answer for [Duncan] all series," Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson said. (By Ronald Martinez -- Getty Images)
Associated Press
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DALLAS, May 16 -- The San Antonio Spurs have accomplished so much in recent years that they needed something new to rally around this season.

Their pick: Trying to become back-to-back champions for the first time.

The mid-May update?

Well, now the Spurs are simply trying to avoid turning into roadkill as they usually do in their non-title seasons.

In all five seasons that Tim Duncan hasn't won the NBA title, the Spurs have been knocked out the first time they've faced elimination. It can happen again Wednesday night when they lug a 3-1 deficit into Game 5 of their second-round series against the Dallas Mavericks.

"At one point we were talking, 'We gotta repeat. We gotta repeat,' " forward Robert Horry said Tuesday. "Now we're just thinking about playing good basketball."

The Spurs have been good the last two games, but the Mavericks have been better. Playing at home, Dallas won Games 3 and 4 in the closing seconds, pulling out a 123-118 victory in overtime Monday night.

San Antonio goes home for Game 5 carrying a three-game losing streak, the longest in a season that featured a franchise-record 63 wins. How the Spurs respond in Game 5 will determine whether this team deserves to be lumped in with the others that plummeted when pushed to the playoff ledge.

"We feel good," defensive stopper Bruce Bowen said. "Guys' attitudes are great."

"Amazingly," added Horry, "when we came in today, nobody was down. Usually, when you come in guys are complaining or moaning about what's going on. Everybody was cheerful. Everybody is looking forward to getting back out on the court and getting a win."

The last game was the best of a series that keeps getting better.

San Antonio came out with Duncan and four players 6 feet 7 or shorter, then ran circles around Dallas, with Tony Parker doing most of the running. He finished with a career playoff-best 33 points, Duncan scored 31 and Manu Ginobili had 26 -- and it still wasn't enough for the Spurs.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company