Speculate all you want, the Spurs still lost the game. Yes, Brent Barry was bumped by Derek Fisher. Bumped enough for the referees to call a foul? Probably not. Could they have called a foul? Sure. Were they correct in making a no call? Absolutely.
I am not a Lakers advocate, all my friends can tell you that. But I do believe that they outplayed the Spurs in Game 4 and deserved to win that game.
The Spurs, finding leadership from the unlikeliest source, Brent Barry, had their chances to win. But, as in Game 1, they failed to capitalize.
And that failure is what will cost the Spurs in the 2008 Western Conference Finals.
The series was essentially over after Game 1. Allowing a 20-point third quarter lead to slip away on the road? No team can overcome that kind of letdown. Not even the experienced, battle-tested San Antonio Spurs.
That became evident in Game 2 when the Lakers put a beating on San Antonio. L.A. came out focused while the Spurs went through the motions, unable to forget their inability to seize command of the series. After going seven games with the Hornets, the Spurs could have sent a message loud and clear, “We may be old but we’re not tired.”
Now the opposite is what’s being perceived. All the commentators, analysts, and average joes are looking at the Spurs and simply shaking their heads in disappointment because “They’re just too old.”
Yes, the Spurs put on a show in Game 3 when they completely ran L.A. off the court. But their age and weariness caught up to them. Game 4 was a constant uphill struggle for San Antonio as the Lakers controlled the game from start to finish. It sure didn’t look like the Spurs were the team playing at home.
San Antonio managed to tie the game five times, but never led. Down seven points with under a minute to play, nearly every Texan thought the game was over. But the reigning champs mounted a comeback.
They cut it down to a two-point game with just over 24 seconds left on the clock. After a contested shot put up by Derek Fisher (which we will come back to) went out of bounds off Robert Horry’s leg, Kobe Bryant had to heave a shot to beat the 24-second clock.
San Antonio got the ball with 2.1 seconds left, enough time to run one play. The star of the game got the ball in his hands. That’s right, Brent Barry was the one who took the last shot of the game.
He pump faked, got Fisher in the air, took a dribble, then threw up what looked like a half-hearted attempt from at least five feet behind the three point line. With the miss, all of Texas let out a sigh of grief, while those in Los Angeles breathed a sigh of relief.
Back to the end of the game. Again, yes, Barry was bumped. But as Reggie Miller, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley all said, he failed to sell the foul. If he had gone straight up into Fisher, Barry could have been at the line shooting three foul shots to win the game.
But, Texans, don’t be so quick to gripe. Off the inbound play, Bryant was forced to throw up a prayer on the Lakers’ last possession. But he shouldn’t have been in that situation.
Fisher’s shot before that grazed the rim; meaning the Lakers should have had a fresh shot clock. Get the inbounds pass into Bryant or Fisher and the game’s essentially over. Those two are far too clutch to fail to knock down two free throws and give L.A. the victory.
So as the old cliché goes, everything evens out in the end. And the bottom line, the Spurs wasted another golden opportunity.