I began cursing during the fourth quarter, because as the free throw gap widened I realized that this difference could easily become the story of the game. And that frustrates me, not so much as a Spurs fan, but rather as a fan of objective analysis. I contemplated going back and watching every fourth quarter foul in slow motion to determine which calls, if any, were undeserved.
Thankfully I realized how pointless that would be. As a Spurs blogger few would treat my review with any seriousness. Plus, one thing I've realized over the past year and a half is that sometimes people just want to be pissed off. They'll pick a source for their displeasure and blame it for, well, everything, ignoring what should be obvious. Such as:
-The Jazz allowed the most FTA in the league during the regular season.
-The Spurs allowed the least FTA in the league during the regular season.
-In the fourth quarter the Jazz took 11 shots outside of the paint.
-In the fourth quarter the Spurs took 3 shots outside of the paint.
-Many, many of the fouls were obvious calls.
-Despite popular belief, there's nothing in the rule book stating each team has to get the same number of free throw attempts.
During the fourth quarter Mark Jackson was going on and on (and on) about how horrible Duncan was playing, even going so far as to say it was "the worst game I've ever seen him play." Umm, Mark, did you suffer some blunt head trauma in the past 48 hours? Duncan was considerably worse in game 3. And yes Mark and Jeff, we know you guys used to be player and coach. That whole bit you have going isn't funny. Please shut up. Please.
Obligatory Manu pic. (Jerry Lara / Express News)
If Sloan was such an amazing coach he would sit Okur and play a main five of Boozer, Millsap, AK47, Giricek and OMGTHEGREATESTPGEVAH!. Despite the opinions of the commentators, Okur's been helpless against Duncan (11 fouls in the past two games) and the Jazz have limited Tim with double teams and collapsing guards. Giricek over Fisher is an obvious switch at this point. Ginobili is so far in Fisher's head that it's a little sad at this point.
Of course Ginobili gets into every opponent's head. And despite his reputation, I don't think it's because of the flopping (which he continues to tone down while Fisher, Oberto, Horry and Raja Bell carry on the torch) or the fact he's Argentinian. I think it's because he NEVER retaliates. He never gets in an opponent's face. He never delivers a foul with a little bit extra or commits frustration fouls. Denver and Seattle both tried (in 2005) to deter him with frequent flagrant fouls. It didn't work. Not only did it not slow him, he didn't react. It's like he legitimately didn't give a rat's ass. Manu Ginobili is totally without outward machismo and it drives NBA players (and opposing fans) crazy. He's The Sickness.
Manu's reaction? N/A. (Steve C. Wilson / AP Photo)
So after their first playoff win in Utah, the Spurs are now one game away from their fourth trip to the NBA Finals. Cinco mas.
(Yes, I know Jacque Vaughn was +9 tonight. Total aberration.)