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Spurs on brink of NBA championship
Steve Keating | June 14, 2003 11:57 IST
Tim Duncan hit for a game high 29 points on Friday, putting the San Antonio Spurs on the brink of their second NBA title in five years with convincing 93-83 win over the New Jersey Nets.
The victory gives the 1999 champion Spurs a 3-2 lead as the series shifts back to San Antonio for Game Six Sunday and Game Seven if necessary Wednesday.
The Nets will now have to make NBA history if they are to return home with their first championship trophy, no road team having ever won Games Six and Seven since the league switched to the 2-3-2 format in 1985.
With control of the series on the line, two of the NBA's dominant players stepped up to stamp their mark on the contest.
Duncan, the Spurs two-time league MVP, overshadowing another brilliant performance from Nets all-star point guard Jason Kidd, who also had 29 points in what might have been his final home game in a Nets' uniform.
Kidd, this season's prize free agent who is rumoured to be heading west next season to join Duncan and the Spurs, got the contest off to an explosive start hitting for nine points in the opening six minutes.
The six time all-star finished the first quarter with 12 but it was the Spurs, led by an eight point effort from Duncan, who carried a slim 19-18 edge into the second.
A series dominated by plodding defensive strategies and woeful shooting, looked ready to breakout out after a wide open, entertaining first quarter.
But the Nets struggled to find their range shooting just 26 percent from the field as the Spurs patiently constructed a 42-34 halftime advantage.
The second half began the same way as the first, with Kidd holding the hot hand draining 12 of the Nets first 16 points as New Jersey surged in front 50-49.
But again, despite Kidd's best efforts, the Nets found themselves trailing entering the final quarter, Duncan countering with nine points to keep the Spurs ahead 66-57.
Down by nine with 6:25 on the clock and the capacity crowd of 19,280 on the edge of their seats, New Jersey mounted a rally slicing the deficit to two 78-76.
But the Nets would get no closer, their comeback stalled by costly turnovers and shaky shooting down the stretch.