The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

National Sports

June 24, 2013

Tim Duncan still sets the bar

NORMAN — MIAMI - Tim Duncan backing in on Shane Battier, who is 3 inches shorter, 35 pounds lighter and a Hall of Fame away in terms of talent, that’s better than San Antonio ever could have hoped for with Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the line.

Three times an NBA Finals MVP, big Tim is automatic in situations like that. It’s so famously fundamental for him, the footwork, the blend of power and grace, the well-earned layup against an overmatched defender. At 37, he’s practiced that move so often and so precisely that the only easier shot for him would be a slam dunk in an empty gym.

Imagine, then, the shock Duncan felt when the ball went glancing off the rim, and once more on his frantic tip-in attempt. That basket, if it had dropped, would have tied the score at 90 in the final minute, and would have crammed the Miami Heat’s confetti shower right back into the cannons for at least a little while.

Instead, after scoring 30 points in Game 6 and 24 more in Thursday’s Game 7, Duncan, the former Wake Forest star, soon found himself in front of a roomful of reporters, his head in his hands at the front table, his mind wandering to places it has never been in four previous NBA Finals appearances.

“Missing a layup to tie the game, making a bad decision down the stretch, being unable to stop Dwyane (Wade) and LeBron (James), Game 7 is always going to haunt me,” Duncan said.

He’s taking this 95-88 loss more personally than he should. Other than Kawhi Leonard, who scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, nobody else on the Spurs played at a championship level Thursday night.

Leonard, however, is 21 years old. Duncan, ages beyond that, played 43 minutes and change in this worldwide examination of his heart as well as his game. As a matter of fact, out of every player on Miami’s athletically superior roster, only James, the game’s latest legend, played more minutes than Duncan in these last seven games, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls James “the best-conditioned athlete in this game.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Sooners advance to Super Six

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships....

    April 19, 2014

  • Can the Heat flip the switch?

    MIAMI — LeBron James was walking down the hallway that the Miami Heat call “Championship Alley” a few minutes after last season’s NBA Finals, when he decided the time was right to send a message. It wasn’t for his fans....

    April 19, 2014

  • No April, May or June Madness in NBA

    AP National Writer ATLANTA — If the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks were in any other sport, they might have a glimmer of hope for winning a championship. The NBA? No way....

    April 19, 2014

  • Warriors and Clippers take mutual dislike into playoff series

    LOS ANGELES — As much as the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors don’t like each other, they’re a lot alike in some ways....

    April 19, 2014

  • Fieger leads Senior PGA

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Gene Fieger shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship....

    April 18, 2014

  • Kuchar builds on momentum

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There were no major letdowns for Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage on Thursday. Kuchar, who tied for fifth at Augusta National, shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 to share the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

    DULUTH, Ga. — Miguel Angel Jimenez’s starring role in the best Masters ever for players 50 and over was the perfect lead-in for his Champions Tour debut....

    April 18, 2014

  • Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field....

    April 18, 2014

  • Wainwright two-hits Nats

    WASHINGTON — Adam Wainwright threw a two-hitter Thursday night for his seventh career shutout, chipped in at the plate with a double and single, and St. Louis benefited from four errors by Washington in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory....

    April 18, 2014

  • Rangers edge M’s

    ARLINGTON, Texas — When Kevin Kouzmanoff was riding the buses in Double-A two seasons ago, he kept his focus on returning to the majors and providing the kind of production that he is now delivering for the Texas Rangers....

    April 18, 2014