Links: NBA Finals Game Four Live Notes

by June 14, 2007

by Lang Whitaker

Game Four! No clouds in my stones, either. Let’s get right to this…

• We’re sitting in wrong seats for the second game in a row. The NBA gave us two seats in completely different sections, so Sam and I are occupying seats reserved for SI for Kids.

• Pregame we saw Taylor Hicks walking around out on the floor and remembered that he was supposed to sing the National Anthem. I approached him and introduced myself, and told him we’d met before, when he and his band (The Soul Patrol) performed at my cousin’s wedding reception in Alabama a few years ago, way before American Idol. I couldn’t remember the city the wedding had been in, but he immediately remembered it and said he sang at that wedding the night before he tried out for American Idol. I think it was probably my inspired dancing at the reception that led to his win.

• While watching the Spurs warm up, Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland approached me and introduced himself to tell me how much he likes SLAM. He’s a subscriber, he told me, and he likes how we mix old school stories with stuff on the up-and-coming kids. He also likes the Kicks section, he said. I offered to put him on the comp list so he could get the mag free, but he said he didn’t mind paying for it. He’s totally my new favorite assistant coach on the Spurs staff.

Chip is probably best known for his work rebuilding Tony Parker’s jumper a few years ago. I asked him what exactly he did with Tony, and he began talking about working on Tony’s balance. I’d overheard him talking to the media the other day about working on slowing down Tony’s release, so I said, “It also looks like he’s really slowed down his release.” Engelland looked shocked and said, “That’s really amazing that you noticed that!” I didn’t tell him I cheated.

• I’m wearing the same Nike Dunks I’ve been wearing the entire series, afraid to break the luck.’s John Schumann reports he didn’t have time to do his customary pre-game shave. I’m furious with John for potentially screwing the Spurs up. I’m ready to go home.

• The game starts with the Cavs screwing up the opening jump. But they get a miss from Tim Duncan and then Drew Gooden drives and scores. Could this be the game Drew finally breaks out?

• Pavlovic hits a three, which is great for the Cavs. Then Tony hits the same runner in the lane that he practiced 1,000 times pregame.

• Bron nails a jumper. The Cavs are shooting 75 percent from the floor. 7-4, Cleveland leads. The crowd is rocking.

• Duncan misses his first two free throws, and the terrifically named Fabricio Oberto picks up a foul. The Spurs get the ball back and TP free throw makes it 7-5. Then Boobie nips a three to make it 10-5. Cleveland’s 2-for-2 on threes out of the gate. By the way, we saw Fabricio Oberto at the Caribou Coffee in the Tower Center mall last night. I think from now on he should be required to go by both names.

• Tony drives right to the rim and scores. 10-8. Zzz… misses a hook shot. Next time down Pavlovic bricks a three. They’re really firing them up tonight.

• Bowen and Fabricio Oberto get tangled defending a Bron/Zzz… pick and roll, and Oberto thinks Bowen is going to stick with Zzz…. But Bowen runs over to Bron and points at Zzz…. A horrified Oberto runs over to the open Zzz… just as he sinks the jumper.

• First timeout of the game, 12-8, Cavs lead with 6:14 to go.

• Out of the timeout the Spurs isolate Duncan, who immediately throw the ball away. Someone needs to upload some new software into him or something. Duncan never screws up out of timeouts.

• 5:26 in and the Cavs have 4 team fouls. The Spurs have 1.

• Bowen nails an elbow jumper to make it 12-11, Cavs. Bron responds with a long 2. Boobie bricks a three (he’s back) and Tony goes coast-to-coast in 4 seconds for a reverse layup. Then he nails a long two, then Manu gets a layup and suddenly the Spurs are ahead 17-16 with 3:12 to go. Timeout, Cavs. And you can hear a friggin’ pin drop up in here, up in here.

• Oh, I’m told Eva Longoria is here with Thierry Henry. (If you don’t know, Thierry is a soccer player for Arsenal, one of the second-tier Premiership teams in England.)

• They’ve got some wildly passive aggressive people here running the scoreboard. Every single time LeBron drives and no foul is called, they replay it on the board and slow it way down at the point where there could be any contact.

• Fabricio Oberto! Off a bullet pass from Tony Parker. TP is dominating this game.

• Second foul has been called on Fabricio Oberto. Sisqo Elson has checked in for Fabricio Oberto. So now Fabricio Oberto is on the bench.

• LeBron goes baseline around Bowen and Sisqo is too busy drinking an energy shake to come over and help out, so Bron gets an open dunk to put the Cavs ahead. Next time down he has another open dunk but Tony fouls him, and he misses both free throws.

The Spurs get the last shot of the first quarter and Bowen leans into Bron, but no foul is called either way. Bron acts as though he was slashed in the face with a plastic knife by John Daly’s wife.

• Spurs looked really bad in the quarter, sloppy and careless. Duncan has 0 points, the team has 5 turnovers. The Cavs have a little spark and fire going.

• Usher and his new girl are shown on the scoreboard during the Kiss Cam section, and they respond with a lusty liplock. Gross. A minute later they show Terrell Owens on the scoreboard and everyone boos, then he holds up a Cavs t-shirt and the place explodes with cheers.

• The Cavs open the second quarter by turning the ball over.

• Damon Jones checks in and does what he does best: misses a runner. Duncan got two minutes of rest and now he’s back in. Still with no points.

• Donkey Jones nails a three from the corner. 25-21, Cavs, 9:36 to go in the half. The Spurs respond by scoring 5 straight points to go ahead 26-25 with 8:27 to go in the half.

• During a timeout, we see a Transformers commercial on the TV on our press table. Sam watches intently, and when it ends he looks up and says aloud, “Jon Voight is the President in The Transformers movie? Jeez…”

• Out of a timeout, the fans are dead silent so the scoreboard actually says THIS ARENA IS TOO QUIET.

• Joe Forte makes a questionable call from across the court after Duncan makes a move and turns the ball over, giving Duncan two free throws. Duncan makes one of two.

• Jacque Vaughn is guarding Boobie Gibson, but he leaves him and sneaks over in front of Bron and gets crushed by Bron. Offensive foul on Bron. Jacque Vaughn then comes down and finds Manu in a corner wide open for a three. Five point lead, Spurs, with 6:05 to go. Timeout.

• Jacque Vaughn has really been solid this entire series. It nearly makes up for when he was on the Hawks and started that season something like 0-for-32 from the floor.

• Because now I’m actually curious about this, I check with Elias and me told that Vaughn actually began that season TK.

• During the timeout, they play the Ricky Martin World Cup theme song, which seems an odd choice considering Tony and Manu are huge soccer fans and Tony brought Thierry Henry, who plays for the formerly good British team Arsenal, along with him.

• Drew Gooden checks in and shakes Sisqo, then nails a two. Oh, and Bron’s back in, too.

• The Cavs cut it to 32-31 with 3:29 to go. Then Tony Parker nails a three from the corner. The Eric Snow shoots an airball about three feet over the rim and Tony Parker gets a two. 37-31 Spurs, 2:26 to go.

• I miss the next 2:16 because Scoop Jackson came through and we were catching up. (By the way, Scoop says what’s up to everyone.) I come back to my seat and the Spurs are ahead 39-34, so I didn’t miss anything, it seems. Tony Parker has 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, with 1 assist. Bron has 9 points and a lot of Cavs have scored, but they’re shooting just 37 percent from the floor.

• Come on now. The halftime show is the Red Panda acrobat, the woman who kicks bowls atop her hard while riding a unicycle. The same halftime show they had after Game Two in San Antonio. I wonder if one day a few decades from now, that woman will be telling her grandchildren that she performed at halftime of half of he 2007 NBA Finals games. And when the kids ask what she did, she’ll say, “I rode a unicycle and kicked bowl from my foot to my head.”

• The Cavs begin the second half with a runner by Drew Gooden. The Spurs come down and Duncan gets tagged with a three second violation. He definitely has some wires crossed tonight.

• Tony grabs a loose ball and zig-zags up the floor, drawing a foul call and making the basket. He misses the free throw, but it’s 44-36, Spurs, with 9 minutes to go.

• The Cavs go on a mini-run and cut it to 44-40. Pop takes a timeout with 8:23 to go. If you knew Duncan was going to finish Game Three with 14 points and then have 5 halfway through Game Four, it would seem unlikely that the Spurs would have the lead in either game.

• And even though he only has 5 points, the offense is still going through Duncan every time down the court. He’s getting hockey assists — passing to guys who pass to open guys.

• Tony nails a three from the corner. He’s got 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. MVP, MVP! If it wasn’t for Tony the Cavs would be winning this one.

• Pavlovic misses a two then picks up a foul. Spurs go up 10 before Drew Gooden sinks a layup, and one. 52-47.

• Next time down LeBron runs the baseline and pops open in the corner. Boobie Gibson stands at the top dribbling the ball, not passing it to Bron, then Gibson gets doubled and he shoots over the double. And misses. Tony Parker comes down and hits a pull-up jumper from the elbow. 56-45 with 2:44 to go. The crowd is mad uneasy.

• Whenever Donyell Marshall checks in, they play the clip from Eminem’s “Let’s Get Down To Business,” where the girls sing “Marshall!”

• Varejao hits two free throws to make it a 9 point game. Duncan responds with a layup.

• LeBron airballs a three, then gets the ball back and Donkey Jones swings it to Boobie, who gets a three. 60-52, Spurs. LeBron steals the heck out of a jump ball before the quarter ends, and the fans disagree loudly by chanting a profanity.

• 60-52, Spurs lead after three. LeBron is 5-for-20 and the Cavs are shooting a measly 32 percent from the floor. The two teams are a combined 8-for-27 from the floor.

• This is Bron’s time. If he wants to keep the Cavs alive, it’s his turn to step it up and take over. Plus the Spurs always seem to snooze in the fourth. If Bron doesn’t take over, we’ve got a brand new dynasty.

• Bron dishes to Donyell Marshall for a deuce. 60-54, Spurs. Horry misses a three. Boobie misses a three. Duncan misses a layup. Bron drives and misses and Donyell Marshall makes the follow. That’s just Ludacris! 60-56, Spurs, with 9:53 to go. Timeout, Spurs. The crowd is rocking during the timeout, and they play Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which fuels the crowd.

• Uh-oh, Tony Parker is back in the game….and Bones gets an offensive foul! Then Bowen picks up a foul. Then Marshall drives and is hacked while shooting. He goes to the line: miss, good. 60-57, Spurs.

• Spurs go to a two-man game and end up missing a shot. The Cavs promptly turn it over. They played great D on that play, though. Tony misses a jumper. Bron wets a jumper from the top of the key. 60-59. Everyone’s chanting De-fense! Varejao jumps Duncan for a foul. Tony Parker jacks up an airball.

• LeBron ends up with Oberto guarding him on a switch and he goes straight to the rim for a layup. Spurs miss and Vrejao gets the ball. Bron misses a jumper but Cavs get the board. Boobie gets fouled. On the next play Boobie goes to the rack and get a two over Duncan. 63-60, Cavs. 6:50 to go.

• Spurs get two from Duncan. Donkey Jones misses a three at the shot clock buzzer. Duncan drives and Varejao flops.

•Timeout. 63-62, Cavs lead, 5:50 to go in the game. Cavs are playing with all the energy right now but they can’t seem to build a sizeable lead. Meanwhile, Tony Parker is busy drinking wine and eating stinky cheese, I think.

• Cavs ball. Boobie to Bron. Bron drives and misses a short pull-up.

• Manu drives and collides with Donyell Marshall, drawing the foul and making the shot. He misses the free throw but Duncan tips it in. 66-63, Spurs.

• Bron drives and draws a foul on Bowen. Cleveland’s shooting free throws the rest of the game. Bron misses the first, makes the second. 66-64, Spurs, 5:00 to go.

• Bron gets a steal and throws it up ahead to Varejao, who dunks it to tie the game.

• Manu is ice cold. He just nailed a three in Bron’s face. 69-66, Spurs. 3:58 to go. Spurs get it back and miss a shot but reset the offense. Bron is called for a kicked ball but I don’t think he kicked it — the ball just bounced off his foot. Loose ball on the inbounds and Duncan kind of sinks into the crowd going after it. Spurs keep possession. They miss a shot and retain possession. Duncan drives and dishes to Fabricio Oberto and he gets two and a foul. He makes the shot. Those plays wasted about one minute of game time, and the Spurs hung on. Talk about pounding the rock. (They got away with a push on Varejao on one play, though.)

• OK, so it’s 72-66 with 2:29 to go in the game.

• Duncan steals it from LeBron in the open floor. Crazy. Oberto gets a wide-open layup to make it 74-66.

• Bron! He nails a three to make it a 5 point game with 1:38 to go. The Spurs miss a shot and LeBron knocks the ball out of bounds. He’s done that a few times tonight.

• Spurs ball with 1:17 to go. Manu hits a running hook to push the lead to 7. I think this is over. The Cavs miss a shot and Manu grabs the board. They’re wasting clock. The Cavs are fouling. The SPurs are making free throws. Finley comes in to be on the floor when he finally gets his ring. Manu fouls Donkey Jones with 7.5 left and down six. Damon hits one, two, three. Thee point game. Duncan calls a timeout. 79-76, with only 7.5 to go. Spurs inbound at halfcourt. Manu gets fouled and makes both free throws. 81-76, 7 seconds left. Timeout Cavs. Bron hits a three. 81-79. Manu takes off up the side of the court and gets fouled with 1.9 left. Makes both. Donkey Jones sinks a three to end it 83-82.

• It’s over. 83-82, the San Antonio Spurs are your champs. The Cavs were LeBroomed. Can you say Dynasty?