Early rising Duncan gets best of Dallas
Web Posted: 05/08/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
Something awakened Tim Duncan at 6 a.m. Sunday, but he swears it wasn't his daughter, Sydney. She is 10 months old and, according to Dad, a sound sleeper. "No," Duncan said, "It wasn't her. She's a real trooper."
Whatever it was that got Duncan up and moving gets partial credit for his 31-point, 13-rebound performance in the Spurs' 87-85 victory over Dallas.
Duncan had his most productive game of the 2006 playoffs, just three points shy of his regular-season high. It was just the third game — in the regular season or playoffs — he surpassed 30 points this season.
Duncan is a creature of habit. Anything that takes him out of his routine has, historically, had a negative impact on his performance. That explains his sour look Friday night after he learned that Game 1 was scheduled for a noon tipoff Sunday. "I hate early starts," Duncan said then.
So when he woke up earlier than planned Sunday, Duncan decided he would stay up. "That was not by design," Duncan said, "but I was up, and so it felt like more of a normal game."
Duncan's 20-point first half was also aided by the Mavericks' defensive strategy.
Choosing to let DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier defend Duncan without double-team help, Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said he was willing to risk Duncan's offensive output. "With this team you've got to pick your poison," Johnson said. "I thought our game plan was pretty good."
So did the Spurs, thrilled to see Duncan getting single coverage. "It was like when I was a rookie and we were just going to him all the time," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. "He was just going to work, feeling good; aggressive, not thinking. He was taking the outside shot. I hadn't seen him take that shot with the glass in a long time, and he took two or three tonight, so you could tell he was feeling good.
"If he plays like that, he makes it easy for everybody."
Duncan scored on five of the Spurs' first 12 possessions and finished the first quarter with 10 points, on 3-of-5 shooting. By quarter's end, the three Mavericks who got turns trying to defend him — Diop, Dampier and D.J. Mbenga — had six fouls combined.
Dallas revised its strategy from the midpoint of the third period to game's end, sending a second defender at Duncan nearly every time he got the ball in the low post. Accustomed to such defensive treatment, Duncan looked for open teammates. "I got a little hesitant towards the end there, maybe passed up a couple shots I should have taken," Duncan said. "But, all in all, you've got to take what they give you."
One of Duncan's shots especially opened some eyes. With 9:58 left in the second period, he threw a crossover dribble at Diop, going from his right hand to his left. He tossed in a soft runner at the rim with his left.
"You don't teach that in basketball school," Parker said. Link