In an awful echo of last year, it came down to some missed free throws. When the buzzer sounded, the San Antonio Spurs had lost to the Miami Heat, 98-96. While the score is closer than the last minutes of the game were, it was thanks to a last moment three pointer by Manu Ginóbili that went up about nine seconds later than it should have.
What was more troubling about the loss was that the Spurs, in the course of two consecutive possessions, missed four key free throws that would’ve helped extend the lead to six points. At the time, with six-and-a-half minutes left, the Spurs were leading by two. Then, after a Mario Chalmers elbow to Tony Parker, the referees whistled a Flagrant One foul call — a call that resulted in two free throw shots and possession of the basketball. The score was 85-87. Parker missed both free throws, then Duncan, who was fouled on the ensuing possession, missed both of his.
“All of a sudden we’re basically talking about a nine point shift there,” Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Golliver said, citing LeBron’s pair of back-to-back baskets after the missed free throws from the Spurs. “On the season San Antonio ranked number four in free throw shooting, above 78 percent in the league,” behind Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Portland. The Spurs would bring the game to within three points on the back of a Tony Parker shot from beyond the arc, but were unable to score the basketball in the final two minutes of the game until Ginóbili’s shot at the end of regulation. Game 3 takes place tomorrow in Miami.