Spurs Blow Golden Opportunity to Distance Themselves from Golden State Warriors

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2013

In a game where they led by eight points with less than five minutes left in regulation, the San Antonio Spurs failed to hold on and blew a chance to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Golden State Warriors outscored Gregg Popovich's crew 47-39 in the second half of Game 4 and then went on a 13-3 run in overtime to seal the deal and tie the series 2-2.

Give the Dubs credit for making plays in crunch time, especially Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes. But this was a case of San Antonio failing to execute down the stretch.

They weren't the crisp, machine-like Spurs that we expected. In fact, in the last 3:43 of the fourth quarter, they mustered just one field goal. Their last seven shots were either mid-range attempts or three-pointers, and that's a microcosm of what plagued them in the second half and overtime.

On several possessions late in the game, Tim Duncan settled for the kind of difficult shots that are contrary to his "Big Fundamental" nickname. He wasn't operating deep on the block, so many of his attempts were off-balance, contested mid-range tosses.

If the Spurs were cold in the fourth quarter, they were absolutely frigid in overtime. They couldn't buy a basket in the last 10 minutes of the contest.

It's extremely difficult to win a road game when you miss 20 three-pointers and 11 free throws. The Spurs learned the hard way in Oracle Arena Sunday.

The result was 36 percent shooting for the game, including 26 percent from distance. This woefully inaccurate clip allowed San Antonio to squander a decent lead midway through the fourth and eventually lose the game.

But this loss was more than just a matter of missing shots. The Spurs' facilitating attack wasn't sharp enough, as the offense wasn't generating enough easy cuts to the rim.

Even though they had fewer turnovers than the Warriors, the lack of fluidity resulted in several forced passes, including a bad one by Kawhi Leonard in overtime that denied San Antonio a chance to draw within one possession.

A couple of untimely fouls also haunted the Spurs, including five by Gary Neal and an unnecessary one by Danny Green in overtime.

These are the kind of plays that make it even more difficult to overcome a horrendous shooting outing. You can't shoot poorly and make ill-advised defensive plays or passes.

Tony Parker and company will head home and aim for a 3-2 series lead after Game 5, but Spurs fans can't help but think Game 4 should have been theirs and Game 5 could have been a closeout.

Which way will the ball bounce Tuesday?


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