Right & Wrong: 28 Seconds Of Failure


Five points and 28 seconds. It’s all that stood between the San Antonio Spurs and a stunning fifth championship.

Five points and 28 seconds to knock out hero-turned-goat-turned-hero again LeBron James and the Miami Heat on their home floor.

Five points and 28 seconds to immortality for Tim Duncan, who had delivered a masterful Game 6.

Five points and 28 seconds the Spurs might never live down.

San Antonio led 94-89 with 28.2 seconds left and it could have been a six-point bulge had Manu Ginobili not missed the front end of two free throws. From there the Spurs collapsed. Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw with 19.4 seconds left that could have been the clincher. The unflappable coach Gregg Popovich will reflect on some questionable strategic calls in the crunch, such as twice removing Duncan on Heat possessions. And twice, the Heat took advantage with offensive rebounds that led to 3-pointers, first from James to slice the deficit to 94-92 with 20.1 seconds left and then from Ray Allen with 5.2 seconds to go to force overtime.

Five points and 28 seconds that could ultimately define the 2013 NBA Finals.

A look at what went right and what went wrong:

Right: His critics ready to pounce, and in this case rightly so, James came through in the clutch with his team hanging onto life by a thread. Through three quarters, James had three field goals and two turnovers. He had missed nine shots and the Heat trailed 75-65, just 12 minutes away from elimination. Then James turned in a phenomenal fourth quarter with 16 points and a tremendous block of Duncan at the rim. However, there were also the three turnovers, two on consecutive possessions in a 12-second span with less than 40 seconds to play. The Spurs went up five, but the now-headband-less James nailed the crucial 3-pointer with 20.1 seconds to go. He ultimately finished with his second triple-double of The Finals.

Wrong: Was Popovich responsible for James and the Heat catching fire to open the third quarter? On the road, up 10 and 12 minutes away from claiming the title, Popovich opted to start the fourth quarter with Parker and Duncan on the bench and a five-man unit of struggling offensive players: Gary Neal, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter. Ninety-four seconds later, the Spurs’ 75-65 lead was 77-73 and Miami charging hard. Popovich quickly summoned Leonard off the bench and then Duncan at the 9:23 mark. Parker sat until the 7:35 mark with San Antonio clinging to an 82-79 lead. With a chance to bury the Heat, Popovich chose to rest his two big guns at the same time, a move that backfired.

Right: Prior to Game 6, Chris Bosh said that Spurs sharpshooter Green wouldn’t find much open space to go off from the 3-point arc, where he had made 25-for-38 in the first five games. When Green got free for a wide-open 3 that he buried in the second quarter, there was plenty of sniping at Bosh in the Twitterverse. He’d get the last laugh as Green wouldn’t make another shot from beyond the arc, finishing 1-for-5 from back there and 1-for-7 overall for three points. Meanwhile, Bosh would grab 11 rebounds, including a huge offensive board in the final seconds of regulation that set up Allen’s game-tying 3-pointer. Bosh also blocked Parker’s jumper with 32.3 seconds left in overtime and then he swatted Green’s desperation corner 3 as the final buzzer sounded.

Wrong: The Spurs’ backcourt failed to come through on both ends. Parker, Ginobili, Neal and Green combined to go 11-for-42 from the floor (26.2 percent) and 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc with 10 turnovers, eight of which were committed by Ginobili. Each made just one 3-pointer and the Spurs’ five from beyond the arc were their fewest of the series. At the other end, Miami point guard Mario Chalmers killed Parker and anyone else guarding him with 20 points. He had 14 points in the first half, which was one more point than Chalmers had managed in the previous three games combined.

Right: Miami shooting guard Mike Miller remarkably recorded his first field goals of the series as a starter. Inserted into the starting lineup for Game 4 after going 9-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first three games, Miller could barely get a shot up as a starter, going 0-for-1 for no points in Games 4 and 5. In Game 6, he hit his first 3-point attempt in the first quarter and finished 2-for-2 from back there and with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists. His biggest contribution was his lone offensive rebound of the game with 22.9 seconds to go in regulation. He split a couple of Spurs and grabbed James’ 3-point miss, got it back out to James on the wing where he nailed his second attempt to cut the Spurs’ lead to 94-92.

Wrong: Manu, Manu, Manu. After his feel-good, 24-point, 10-assist breakout in Game 5, Ginobili reverted to his mostly bumbling ways in this series, low-lighted by eight turnovers, including two critical miscues in overtime. He was horrendous on the offensive end with just nine points and getting of just five shot attempts. He thought he got raked across the arm driving through the lane in the final seconds. No call was made and he could have just as easily been whistled for traveling. The ball popped free and into the arms of Allen, who was fouled and hit the two free throws for the 103-100 lead with 1.9 seconds to go.

Right: The Heat and Allen turned the tables on the Spurs from the 3-point arc, knocking down 11-for-19 while the Spurs went just 5-for-18 — and 18-point differential. Allen, the league’s all-time 3-point leader, has been overshadowed by Green during this series. In Game 5, Green broke Allen’s Finals record for most 3-pointers in a single Finals. Not to be outdone, Allen dropped the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds to go and saved the Heat from elimination.

Wrong: After Parker hit a 3-pointer and a little dipsy-do shot in the lane and Ginobili made one of two free throws for a 94-89 lead with 28.2 seconds to go, the Heat (un)faithful started filing out of the building. Maybe for a January game against the Bobcats, but just up-and-leaving in Game 6 of the NBA Finals? No matter how dire the situation, this should never occur. In the words of Charles Barkley, “Turrrrrible!”


  1. lorrin koshi says:

    Its a shame the refs did not call the last two fouls.disgraceful!! The NBA just wanted a seventh game to make more money.

  2. busa-boss says:

    spurs blew their chance to be champions…so sad and delusional about what happened in that dying seconds…pop, you know that they will try a three point basket, who do you want to rebound the ball…???Duncan is your only anchor in your defense, without him on the floor the heat are so furious…if only duncan wasn’t pulled out, maybe the outcome could be different

  3. Miami Heat Fan says:

    They said Coach Pop is a genius coach??? really??? Coach Pooppss! it’s coco crunch! lol…

  4. jojo says:

    This game was a game that the spurs lost rather than a game that the heat won. Everything had to go right for the heat and everything had to go wrong for the spurs during those last 28 sec just for the heat to stay alive. The trophy was in san antonio’s hands and it slipped right out haha. Props to lebron and allen for making two crucial threes but they really had some help from lady luck with two crucial offensive rebounds. One rebound just bounced right to bosh’s hands. Missed free throws at end game is unforgivable. if the spurs lose this series kawai would never be able to sleep because of that missed free throw.. oh well. very painful loss. Game 7 is a gift to all basketball fans of the world! So excited for game 7! Miami an overwhelming favorite because of the moral boost of a salvaged game and san antonio’s spirits must really be crushed by now. Hope the spurs can forget game 6 and play with out fear or regret in game 7.

  5. zzlwork says:

    i just feel really sorry for supurs,and i am always supporting the spurs,but the team lost the best chance to get champion,and i loose 200 cash to centre

  6. RogerT says:

    Why are we even doubting Pop who had 4 Rings and coached Spurs for over 1,000 games and counting?

  7. alex Bong says:

    According to me ,San antonio will lose the game morrow .

  8. alex says:

    MANU is killing all work TONY PARKER did. He is the lazy player and he need to be on the benched.

  9. Ben Cook says:

    Firstly everyone is making these accusations AFTER the play. Yeah you’re real smart telling people what they SHOULD have done, sorry but Pop can’t predict the future. Secondly YOU ARE CALLING HIM WRONG AFTER THE PLAY, POP CANT PREDICT THE FUTURE, it’s so easy for you to all call it a wrong move after seeing how the Heat ran the play. For god’s sake Pop has led the Spurs to 4 championships and is one of the best coaches ever, how can you possibly criticise him, if you are so good at calling plays, please tell me why you don’t have 4 rings OR even a position in the NBA.

  10. Tony Soprano says:

    Why didn’t San Antonio foul somebody not in the act of shooting in the last Miami possession? Put Miami on the line with a 1 and 1. At worst, get the ball back and a one point lead with a few seconds left. Don’t get it….

  11. Kal says:

    LeBron showed a little flash of grit hitting that three after missing so horribly on the first attempt. i want to see more of that gritty LeBron in game 7. but i think his 16 in the 4th are overrated. the block was big but the points just came with the flow of things. they weren’t heroic, other than that one three.

    but Ray Allen came through huge and is the real deal. he need do nothing else in his career from now on and i will always think of him as clutch, as an amazing shooter, as somebody who almost always lived up to reputation, as a champion. period.

    and those Heat fans that left is just another sign that Miami Heat fans — or, at least, the bandwagoners — are the worst, most superficial, spoiled, stupid fans in the NBA. if you’re gonna worry about traffic in a game like that, you shouldn’t be at the game in the first place.

  12. pekku le tip says:

    One question coming from Europe and even though Pop has already answered this I want your opinion.

    If you are 3 points ahead and there are only 5-10 seconds left why don’t you foul a player so he goes to the line? Worst case scenario he makes one and they grab the offensive rebound and score another 2 points but if you have your best rebounders in the game that’s not gonna happen..is it?

    It’s something that is doen here in Europe in every game that goes down the stretch and I don’t get why Pop didn’t do it last night….It was their chance to win an NBA title not a regular season game.

  13. shshhs says:

    POP is no and not even close to PHIL period

    • The Truth says:

      Phil got to coach teams who are close or already in their prime. They have all the personnel and all they need is a very good coach. And that’s what Phil is A VERY GOOD COACH.

      Enter Pop who not only is a superb coach, but also is a proven front office type guy. A collection of very late 1st to 2nd round picks plus Tim Duncan wins 4 championships? Yeah, Pop’s not even close, only because you’re comparing oranges and lemons.

  14. Robert Ico says:

    Chris Bosh is an idiot for telling fans to stay home for game 7. For a guy who is an average player, he speaks like he’s the “chosen one”. Every big man that he’s gone up against in the playoffs he’s been schooled. Hibbert was better and Duncan was better. He had no answer for both. Hibbert scored at will. Duncan, at 37 is so much more effective than him. Chris Bosh should stop thinking he is the next “big thing” and start respecting fans. Chris Bosh barely makes the top 10 centre list in the league, yet he acts and thinks like he’s in a league all by himself. I bet he’ll even be the first to tell you he won the game for the Heat last night.

    • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

      I’m sure he was a little pissed when the fans started booing him at the end of the 2nd quarter… and than imo brought miami back with numerous key plays down the stretch and completely took his game to another level after the 2nd half, and than the fans leave and disrespect the team like that, after they were booing bosh and lebron for missing shots? Bosh had every right to say that to the fans, cause miami fans are a disgrace after that move. Also im sure bosh knows he wont be back next year.

    • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

      Also chris bosh says so himself that its not the big 3 its more like the big 2 +1.. Bosh is far from thinking he is “the chosen one” lmao, he puts himself down all the time for his play. Also he is a PF, hibbert and duncan are centers. Miami is asking ALOT from him to guard these players that he normally doesnt guard. Also bosh played duncan extremely well in game 6, duncan was just knocking down his shots.. Only way he could have played him better was if he blocked every single shot..Typical hater that knows nothing.

  15. dink says:

    A rare bad move by pop to not have Duncan out there at the end to secure the rebound , also ginobil got hammered on the way to the basket with about 2 seconds left and they never called it which was HUGE . its all good tho I think this actually galvanizes the spurs being that close the championship that they ‘ll take game 7 and then pat rileys gonna blow it up trade wade and bosh , fire spo , and he’ll bring in like phil Jackson or something next yr .

    • Danny Young says:

      Your truly an idiot if you think spo would get fired and they trade Wade and bosh. Even IF they lost riles knows he has a future hall of fame coach in spo. Please tell e again how many active coaches have been to 3 finals back to back? Do you even watch the game? Lol

  16. David says:

    2 offensive rebounds in the final 28 seconds are just too much. It’s Pop fault, no doubt about it. Spurs only need to grab 1 of those and all things finish.

  17. Chinoman says:

    I dont understand, when Allen made the final 3 pts, the spurs didnt have a timeout but the ref decided to stop the clock to watch the tape. So how come on the court BEFORE the ref stopped the clock, Spurs starters were Parker, Gino, Green, DIAW and Leonard and AFTER the ref watched the tape, Spurs starters were parker, Gino, Green, DUNCAN and Leonard.
    Its doesnt make sense, you cant substitute when the ref is watching the tape ?

  18. Shaniqua B. says:

    This was so emotional to watch, because the Spurs totally blew it at the end. In this instance, I wouldn’t say that Miami won the game, I’d say that the Spurs lost it for them

    • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

      Well they hit clutch threes, I think that deserves more credit to winning the game rather than the spurs missing some free throws and not getting a rebound.

  19. James says:

    What a dumb and stupid decision by Gregg Popovich to bring Tim Duncan out of the game in those final crucial seconds of the championship. If Spurs lost game 7, Gregg Popovich will be haunted by this memory for life. And lastly, why did Gregg Popovich put 2 clowns that is Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili on the starting fourth quarter when they are leading by 10 points? These 2 clowns are exactly the reasons why the Spurs is struggling throughout this series. Erik Spoelstra must be extremely delighted when he sees Tim Duncan and Tony Parker benched and Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili on the floor. He must be thinking: “The opportunity has finally arrived! Is now or never!” and went on the kill against the Spurs.

    An advice for Gregg Popovich: Never ever let your best players get benched in the crucial minutes of the game. Learn from the many historical war events in the ancient past where kings or rulers would deploy their best generals and military advisors into the most important battles.

    Some opportunities, when lost, will never come back again.

    • The Truth says:

      An advise for you. Don’t act like a know-it-all. It makes you look even more stupid than you really are.

      • James says:

        I act like I know it all? For your info, I am merely supporting the editor’s point of view here which coincidentally had the same view as me. If you can’t come up with a good debate on why Pop make that decision, then don’t make a fool of yourself in this post. Seriously, you bring stupidity to a whole new level!

    • Jay says:

      But take into consideration that Duncan is 37, he does not have fresh legs anymore. He had to rest. Pop just did what any normal coach would do, use the lead to rest your players so that come crunch time, they’ll be fresh. I’m a Heat fan but I don’t think you or anyone should question Pop’s decisions because he is already a champion and is considered the best coach in the league. It was just a stroke of luck and timely shooting that allowed the Heat to win.

      • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

        He had to rest? there are 20 seconds left in game 6 of the FINALS to win a CHAMPIONSHIP, lol talking about rest he can rest in the offseason with his 5th ring.. I personally am glad pop took him out cause I would have to agree with people that bosh liekly wouldn’t have gotten that rebound.

  20. Brent says:

    If the Spurs hold out to win, this discussion isn’t happening. If they don’t miss a free throw in the closing seconds or even only miss one of them, this discussion isn’t happening. The Spurs gave the game away. If the players in the court execute, Pop is a genius. They didn’t execute, so everyone is throwing it all on the coach who would otherwise be a hero.

    Miami will win this series. San Antonio hit them with their best punch and Miami survived. I honestly don’t expect Game 7 to even be close.

  21. jason says:

    Yeah. it was a devastating lost for Spurs. I know it’s a basketball game where everything can happen. But, I was surprised too when Duncan was pulled from the court in the last seconds of the game.

  22. bruno says:

    One word for the Spurs . How can you miss free throw at that crucial moment ? the game would have finish for 1 point ending up Spurs champion of the NBA 2013. They have dominate the entire game and got loose at the end.

    • onyx says:

      if miami wins game 7,there are 2 reasons why they became champion ,
      1. benching hibbert in dying seconds of game 1 betwwen pacers and miami
      2. benching duncan in dying seconds of game 6 of the championship

      • onyx says:

        he(popovich) should learned from the mistake of frank vogel(never benched the best center of your team in the dying seconds)

    • fan says:

      Because that’s when the most pressure would be on them. Hitting two free throws in practice is different then in the finals to close out the most hated team in the league. Manu has been off all series and Leonard isn’t a consistent shooter from the line, nor is he used to that pressure.

  23. Dolores Hart says:

    MY EMAIL ADDRESS: dhart90232000@yahoo.com

    • LebronPH says:

      c’mon man. Leonard could have finish us off with that FT. i Don’t think the refs have something to do with that. And the Ray Allen trey! The ball doesn’t have a remote. Spurs want it so bad. But they Blew it.

    • Dolores: You are a Moron. The refs made bad calls both ways, and SA went to the line more than Miami. And yes, the authorities announced that Miami has an Guided Radio Device in the rafters that was used to guide Allen’s shot into the basket to force OT. LOL.. The Spurs lost the game, no one else, they blew two key free throws in the final 28 seconds that cost them the game. Simple as thatQ No conspiracy u buffon!

    • Danny Young says:

      Miami has been called for 126 fouls, the spurs 99. So please tell me how Miami gets all the calls. Know your numbers before you post stupid replies.

  24. theholyspectator says:

    people talk about flops, the only flop i saw was the spurs in the final minute of that game, they flopped and didnt execute, thats going to cost them and i feel miami will win game 7

    • claudio says:

      I’m a spurs fan and I can’t believe what happened and yes Miami is going to win infortunately!! Why did Pop took duncan out is beyond everybody.

      • Tom says:

        You call yourself a Spurs fan but don’t notice that they’ve taken Duncan out in that situation all year

    • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

      you didn’t see parker flop when lebrons elbow came 4 inches to his face and parker jolted his head back and fell to the ground?

  25. Tucker says:

    It’s popovich’s fault the Spurs aren’t home with the trophy riight now. As soon as he pulled Duncan the first time I got to mad. Why pull your best rebounder and defender in a clinching game when it’s not over yet??? Why, Pop? Why???

    • Popo says:

      you obviously NEVER watch them play. They played 82 games in the regular season. They always did this.
      With 28 seconds left with a 5 point lead, they were going to win. You do not have the credentials or the understanding. Mostly because you’re not an actual fan, to say it was a bad move. They always take Duncan out towards the end of the game on defensive positions with that much left on the clock, they also always take Parker out. It got them second seed in the west.

      • Tucker says:

        Dude… They were only up by five with 28 seconds left. It’s THE FINALS and you don’t want to take any chances. I don’t care how many times they pulled Duncan in the same scenario in the regular season. The FINALS are different! You pull Duncan in that scenario in tye regular season and it’s not a terrible move. Why? Because there will be more games! Seriously use your head. The FINALS and the REGULAR SEASON are totally different and should be approached that way ESPECIALLY in the closing seconds. You get it now??

    • Marco29 says:

      He should have watched Game 1 of the ECF when indiana made the same mistake by sitting Hibbert.
      That was a terrible move. No way the Heat (especially Miler) would have gotten 2 conseutive offensive boards with Duncan on the floor.
      And what about not fouling on the Heat’s lat possession? You cannot say that is is not done in the US, Miami fouled on all of the Spurs’ last possessions and Spurs missed one attempt too much.

  26. Michael says:

    Great offense and defense from the HEAT. It is not easy to come from a 10 deficit playing vs the Spurs. The fact that the HEAT was able to overcome this game…they will win this championship. San Antonio had their chances and now is up…believe me.

  27. Jersy says:

    NBA should act on the ELBOW that Ginobili threw on LeBron’s neck.

    IF ITS FLOP. Then get the penalty to LEBRON
    IF ITS A CHEAP SHOT, how should you compare it to Metta World Peace elbow on Harden. Penalty?


    • skrutz says:

      Why do you make the same comment multiple times under a different name? Although, I do agree.

  28. Loki says:

    Credit to Miami for turning it up last minute but that overtime wouldn’t have happened if the Spurs hadn’t screwed themselves.

    Leonard and Manu missing crucial free throws is a huge deal. But the worst part was Bosh getting an offensive rebound to get Ray Allen a three pointer. Why wasn’t Duncan in in case of this?

    I won’t even get started on Manu’s sloppy overtime.

    Just get in there and get the job done game 7, I’ve still got faith in my Spurs

  29. Jes says:

    We are waiting if the NBA will act on the ELBOW that Ginobili threw on LeBron’s neck.

    IF ITS A CHEAP SHOT, what would the NBA do?


    • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

      Yeah no kidding… Waiting for parker to get his 5,000 fine on the flop when lebron “elbowed” the air 3 inches from his face. Not to mention all of ginobli’s flops, he flops at least once a game but yet they have never been fined but the heat sure have.. I’m hoping they will do it after the series at least, if lebron gets fined for flopping than tony parker should definately be getting fined too.

  30. You don’t take your Hall of Fame Center, and All NBA defender out on two crucial possessions Pop.
    He’s your best rebounder, and best defender.
    Ginolbi stunk up the place. Boris Diaw should have played more in his place. Your best defense is Diaw on James, and Leonard I believe on Wade.
    Parker, and especially Duncan deserve to win another championship, and pulling Duncan on two crucial defensive possessions likely cost them that game.

    • theun says:

      I agree Diaw can help the spurs offensively when Ginobili isn’t clicking. But, although he isn’t a bad defender, i don’t think u can put him on James for a lot of minutes. I fear James will go berserk on him with his speed and ability to finish at the rim.

    • Popo says:

      you obviously NEVER watch them play. They played 82 games in the regular season. They always did this.
      With 28 seconds left with a 5 point lead, they were going to win. You do not have the credentials or the understanding. Mostly because you’re not an actual fan, to say it was a bad move. They always take Duncan out towards the end of the game on defensive positions with that much left on the clock, they also always take Parker out. It got them second seed in the west.

      • Neutral viewer says:

        watch how you say it: 82 GAMES IN THE REGULAR SEASON. This was a potential clincher and when it’s that close you always secure the win with your best players. It is about an NBA championship. Maybe you did not get that?
        All in all, defensive rebounding and free throws were the key to the final half a minute. If SA just rebounded and made their free throws, the series would be over.

      • gckelley says:

        Popo, it was 12 minutes from a championship and the Spurs had their foot on the Heat’s neck and you let them up. Of course, this is the same coach who ignored the fact Ginobili was KILLING his team. They don’t have anybody else to bring the ball up? How about somebody who will just slow down play until the regulars are rested? If you’re going to give back 6 points of your lead, how about doing it over about 4 minutes instead of 90 seconds?

    • Really says:

      That’s the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard! Boris Diaw can’t contain LeBron he’s too slow! LeBron blew by him on several possesions! Kawhi on LeBron and MAYBE Green on Wade. San Antonio tried to coast to the finish, but it came back and smacked them in the face! Horrible closeout on San Antonio’s part!

      • The Truth says:

        If you can accomplish even a quarter of Pop’s accomplishments, then you can second guess him.

        If not, just keep your mouth shut and watch the professionals do their thing.