San Antonio Spurs: 10 Greatest Games in Franchise History

Jack WinterCorrespondent INovember 18, 2010

San Antonio Spurs: 10 Greatest Games in Franchise History

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    The San Antonio Spurs won their first championship in franchise history in 1999.  Success continued throughout the 2000s, as they won three titles over the following eight seasons.  Its no surprise, then, that the list of the greatest games in Spurs history is highlighted by contests from that time period.

    George Gervin was the Spurs' first star, though his time in San Antonio never yielded a ring.  David Robinson was one of the league's best players in the 1990s, but didn't even get to his first NBA finals until the decade's end.  Not coincidentally, that's when current Spurs star Tim Duncan came aboard.  Ever since, there's been great basketball in San Antonio.

    The franchise's top 10 games of all time feature amazing individual efforts, unbelievable finishes resulting in both wins and losses and triumphs that end with a trophy presentation.

    Following is a list of the greatest games in the history of the San Antonio Spurs, one of the NBA's most successful teams.

No. 10: Rockets 94-Spurs 93, Game 1 of 1995 Western Conference Finals

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    On May 22, 1995, the Western Conference Finals kicked off in San Antonio with the Spurs hosting the Houston Rockets.

    In front of a raucous crowd, the teams played a back-and-forth game.  The matchup of David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon lived up to its billing, as the star centers had their squads in contention deep into the final quarter.

    That's when Rockets forward Robert Horry ripped the hearts out of the San Antonio faithful.  The youngster hit a game-winning three pointer as time, and put the Spurs in a 1-0 hole.  

    San Antonio never recovered from Horry's heroics, and lost the series 4-2.

No. 9: Gervin Goes for 59, April 22, 1979

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    On the final day of the 1979 season, George Gervin put on one of the most extraordinary performances in Spurs history.

    After the Nuggets' David "Skywalker" Thompson scored 78 points, the Iceman needed to net 58 points to win the league's scoring title.  Gervin got off to an incredible start, scoring 20 points in the first quarter.  The second stanza was even kinder to the Spurs star, as he poured in a remarkable 33 points.

    After having tallied an NBA record 53 points in the first half, the scoring title was all but a certainty.  With 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Gervin sank a short jumper to get to 59 and assume the crown of the league's point King.  

    Gervin finished the night with 63 points.  One wonders how many he might have scored if the game had been close, as he played sparingly in the second half.  

No. 8: The Admiral Puts up 71, April 24, 1994

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    Also going for the scoring title in the last game of the season, center David Robinson poured in 71 points for the Spurs on April 24, 1994, taking the title from Shaquille O'Neal in the process.

    Against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers, The Admiral converted 26 of his 41 shots (63 percent) and made 18 of his 25 free throw attempts.  Even more impressive, Robinson contributed in other ways, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out five assists and blocking two shots.

    Clippers coach Bob Weiss said postgame, "[Robinson was] dominant.  We double teamed him with our forwards every time we could but he still scored points."

No. 7: Bullets 107-Spurs 105, Game 7 of 1979 Western Conference Semifinals

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    After a 48-34 regular season and defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, the Gervin-led Spurs advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals to face the Washington Bullets.

    San Antonio got off to a fantastic start against Washington, winning three of the series' first four games, two in convincing fashion.  Unfortunately, the Bullets won the next two games and forced a Game 7 on their home floor.

    Despite a valiant offensive effort in front of a rabid Washington crowd, the Spurs suffered a heartbreaking 107-105 loss, ending their hopes of first conference finals appearance.

No. 6: Suspensions Doom the Suns, Game 4 of 2007 Western Conference Semifinals

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    In Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals, the most important play of the postseason occurred.  It wasn't a clutch steal, a bad foul or a game-winning shot.  It was a shove.

    The Spurs led early in this one, before the Suns staged a furious rally and took a 100-97 lead late in the fourth quarter.  That's when Robert Horry, now of the Spurs, ran hard into Suns point guard Steve Nash, sending him flying into the scorer's table.

    Though it didn't affect the game's outcome, the play had defining ramification's for the series overall.  Suns stars Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended were given a one game suspension for leaving the bench, leaving Phoenix without two of their best for a crucial Game 5.

    Said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, "We have the most powerful microscopes and telescopes in the world in Arizona, [and] you could use those instruments and not find a shred of fairness or common sense in that decision. That's kind of how it feels. It really benefits no one. It doesn't benefit us, obviously. It doesn't benefit the Spurs. It doesn't benefit the fans. It doesn't benefit the NBA." 

    Well, D'Antoni was wrong.  San Antonio certainly benefited, as they closed out the series in six games and went on to win their most recent NBA title.

No. 5: Big Shot Bob Comes up Short, Game 5 of 2003 Western Conference Semifinals

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    Horry is again at the center of attention for San Antonio, this time playing for the hated Los Angeles Lakers.  

    After winning the series' first two games, San Antonio was riding high heading into a two-game stretch on the Lakers home floor.  However, L.A. won both games convincingly, sending the series back to San Antonio for a pivotal Game 5.

    A heated, back-and-forth game came down to a final shot.  Of course, it was Big Shot Bob whose number was called.  Only this time, Horry rimmed out, and the Spurs held on for a 96-94 victory.

    San Antonio won the series, defeated Dallas in the conference finals, then took down New Jersey in six games for their second title of the Duncan era.  From this point on though, the Big Fundamental was by himself in the paint, as veteran superstar David Robinson retired with a championship ring.

No. 4: Duncan's Three Lifts Spurs in Thriller, Game 1 of 2008 First Round

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    Desperately in need of a three pointer in Game 1, San Antonio went to an unlikely source: Tim Duncan.

    Trailing 104-101 on their home floor with just 10 seconds remaining, the Spurs inbounded the ball to Manu Ginobili.  Known for hitting clutch shots, everyone in the arena thought the Argentinian would be the one to take a shot from deep.  Not the case.

    Duncan's shot is considered one of the greatest in postseason history, and propelled the Spurs to an epic 117-115 double overtime victory.

No. 3: The Little General Comes up Big, Game 5 of 1999 NBA Finals

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    In search of the first championship in franchise history, the Spurs relied on Twin Towers Duncan and Robinson all season long.

    It was no different in the playoffs, as the two dominated competition en route to a finals appearance against the Cinderella New York Knicks.

    The heavily favored Spurs won three of the first four games, leading to a decisive Game 5 in Madison Square Garden.  Needing a bucket late in the fourth quarter, the Spurs got it on a jumper from fiery point guard Avery Johnson.

    The Spurs won the low-scoring thriller 78-77, giving the franchise its first-ever championship.  Duncan was named finals MVP after averaging a stellar 28 points and 14 rebounds per game.

    The game ushered in a new era of Spurs basketball, one in which they established themselves as one of the league's rare true dynasties.

No. 2: Fisher's Game-Winner, Game 5 of 2004 Western Conference Finals

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    In the most improbable five-second stretch in NBA history, both Tim Duncan and Derek Fisher thought they hit amazing game-winners.  Only the latter was right.

    Looking for their second consecutive title, the Spurs took the first two games against the hated Lakers.  Though they lost the next two in L.A., things looked bright for San Antonio in Game 5 in front of a home crowd.

    In a slow, grind-it-out contest, the Lakers had a surprising 72-71 advantage.  That's when Duncan did the incredible.  Now down one with just0 .4 seconds remaining, it seemed the Lakers were doomed.  Then Fisher outdid Duncan, hitting the most defying game-winning shot in NBA history.

    The Lakers closed out the series in Game 6, before losing to the underrated Detroit Pistons in the finals.

No. 1: Elliott's Memorial Day Miracle

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    This one speaks for itself.

    Sean Elliott hit the most memorable shot in San Antonio history with twelve seconds left in game two of the Western Conference Finals, spurring them to their first-ever NBA title.

    So the Duncan Era began.