MIAMI. It was unfamiliar territory for a very mournful-looking Tim Duncan. Hard for the San Antonio Spurs forward to verbalize. It’ll likely be even harder to cope with later on, especially if he never gets back to the NBA Finals.
Duncan and the Spurs had to win just one of two games to claim the 2013 NBA championship. One victory for a fifth title. Instead, the Spurs’ franchise cornerstone tasted defeat for the first time in the NBA Finals after a deciding 95-88 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 7 on Thursday night.
“Missing a layup to tie the game,” Duncan recalled. “Making a bad decision down the stretch. Just unable to stop Dwyane [Wade] and LeBron [James]. Game 7 is always going to haunt me.”
No one will question Duncan’s effort and play as he finished Game 7 with a team-high 24 points, 12 rebounds and four steals while sitting for only five minutes.
But he could care less about what the box score said. What pained him were his last two short post-shot attempts that didn’t fall when they were desperately needed to keep San Antonio alive.
The Spurs were down 90-88 when Miami’s Mario Chalmers gave them a huge break by missing two free throws. After the Heat’s Chris Bosh grabbed the rebound, the Spurs’ Tony Parker snatched it away.
The ball ended up in the 6-foot-11, 255-pound Duncan’s hands in the post with the Heat’s slender 6-8, 220-pound Shane Battier guarding him. Odds for one of the greatest post players in NBA history looked good. Real good.
But Duncan missed a 4-foot hook shot and a put-back lay-in. Afterward, the typically stoic big man slid out of character by slapping the floor with both hands in frustration and then hanging his head in disappointment. The Heat scored the last five points to repeat as NBA champions.