MIAMI — The headband. The one-shoed 3-pointer. The Ray Allen corner jumper. However you want to remember the Miami Heat’s 103-100 overtime Game 6 win, for the San Antonio Spurs it might be best known as the game they want to forget.
Consider: The Spurs led by 10 points going into the fourth quarter, were up five with 28.2 seconds to play, and were up again by three with 2:42 to play in OT. But the Heat consistently found ways to make plays and finish on top. Which left the Spurs, in the words of Manu Ginobili, “devastated.”
“It was a hell of a game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “ It was an overtime game. It was a game of mistakes. And they ended up on the winning side.”
Several Spurs posted major performances with the chance to deliver Miami a knockout punch, such as Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 22 points and 11 boards (and early on had a monster dunk over Mike Miller). But it was Leonard’s missed free throw with 19.4 seconds remaining in regulation that left the door open for Miami and caused “Nick Anderson” to become a trending topic on Twitter.
For all of Manu Ginobili’s brilliance in Game 5 — he finished with 24 points, 10 assists and three turnovers — the Heat confounded him at nearly every turn throughout Game 6. Ginobili finished with nine points and eight turnovers in just over 34 minutes of play, including a turnover with the Spurs down by two and 2.4 seconds left in overtime.
“I had a very good game last game, and I just couldn’t maintain it,” Ginobili said. “I was very insecure — well, I had a career high in turnovers in a really bad moment. It really helps to make me feel terrible.
“Even with all that, we were so close of winning it. So, it’s one of the many things I’ll be thinking tonight.”
Throughout the Spurs’ dynasty, we’ve grown used to seeing them finish games with poise, and time and again finish off opponents. Yet, for whatever reason, in Tuesday’s Game 6 the Spurs couldn’t find that resolve.
“We didn’t exhale at all,” said Tim Duncan, who had a monster first half (25 points and eight boards) before finishing with 30 and 17. “We continued to make some plays. We missed some free throws down the stretch that could have clinched it for us. As I said, we get a stop, we get a bad bounce and right out to Ray [Allen] for a 3. We get stops before that and get rebounds, push them out, we put ourselves in a great situation. It was just unfortunate the bounces that we get, but that’s how basketball goes. They’re a very good team over there and they continue to play right down to the wire.”
Now the Spurs have less than 48 hours to forget this game and what might have been, and instead focus squarely on a decisive Game 7. Popovich said in order to get the Spurs prepared after such a heartbreaking loss, he will take a pragmatic approach: “Get them on the bus, it arrives at the ramp over here, we get off the bus, we get on the court and we play. That’s how we get ready.”
“I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized,” Ginobili said. “I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards. We’re going to have to play our best game, even better than today. Shoot better, better defense, less turnovers in my case. But yeah, there’s no secret recipe for bouncing back.”
“We have no choice,” said Tony Parker, who finished with 19 points and 8 assists and no turnovers, but admitted he was battling cramps down the stretch. “We have to bounce back. We have to realize we have another great opportunity. It’s going to be another great game.”
“It is what it is,” said Duncan. “It’s a one-game series now.”