By Ron Griffitts
In June 2005, the defending champion Detroit Pistons (54-28) still coached by Larry Brown with Joe Dumars as general manager met the San Antonio Spurs, appearing in their third finals in seven years, coached by Gregg Popovich with general manager R. C. Buford (59-23).
It was a battle between two future Hall of Fame coaches as both Brown and Popovich had long careers coaching basketball.
The Pistons had dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers (4-1), Indiana Pacers (4-2) and Miami Heat (4-3) to get to the finals and were led by Richard Hamilton (18.7 ppg, 4.9 apg), Tayshaun Prince (14.7 ppg), Ben Wallace (12.2 rpg), Chauncey Billups (16.5 ppg, 5.8 apg), and Rasheed Wallace (14.5, 8.2 rpg).
The Spurs got past the Denver Nuggets (4-1), Seattle SuperSonics (4-2) and the Phoenix Suns (4-1) and were led, as in the past, by Tim Duncan (20.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg) as well as Tony Parker (16.6 ppg, 6.1 apg) and Manu Ginobili (16.0).
Game one was in the SBC Center in San Antonio and for three quarters it was a low scoring defensive-affair until the Spurs behind Manu Ginobili’s 15 fourth quarter points outscored the Pistons 29-18 to win game one, 84-69.
Ginobili led the Spurs with 26 points and Tim Duncan added 24 and pulled down 17 rebounds while Chauncey Billups led Detroit with 25 points.
Led again by Ginobili, who made 4 of 5 from three point range for a total of 27 points, the Spurs dominated game two in a 97-76 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
For game three the teams switched to The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan and it was the Pistons’ turn to dominate with a 96-79 win as they held Manu Ginobili to only 7 points.
Richard Hamilton contributed 24 points, Chancy Billups 20 and Ben Wallace 11 rebounds while for San Antonio Tony Parker led with 21 points and Tim Duncan had 11 rebounds.
The Pistons’ domination continued in game four as they had seven players in double figures in a 102-71 with Chauncey Billups and Lindsey Hunter each scoring 17 points and Ben Wallace led in rebounds with 13. The Spurs made only 37.1% of their field goal attempts, you don’t win many basketball games with that percentage.
Game five was a key game in the series as the teams were tied 89-89 after regulation. In overtime the Pistons had several chances to win the game but a clutch three pointer by Robert Horry with just seconds left on the clock won it for San Antonio 96-95.
Tim Duncan had 26 points and 19 rebounds and Robert Horry, who had played on NBA championship teams in Houston and Los Angeles, had 21 points.
Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 34 points and Ben Wallace contributed 12 rebounds as the Spurs lead in the series three games to two and the teams head back to San Antonio.
The Pistons however regrouped after the tough loss and won game six 95-86 to tie the series behind 23 points from Richard Hamilton and 21 from Chauncey Billups. Tim Duncan had 21 points and 15 rebounds and Manu Ginobili 21 points and 10 rebounds as the teams prepare for the seventh game.
Game seven was a defensive low scoring affair with the two teams even after six games and three quarters of play as the score was 57-57 going into the fourth quarter. But Manu Ginobili stepped up with 11 fourth quarter points and made eight of 13 field goal attempts for the game to lead the Spurs to the win 81-74 and their third NBA title in seven years.
The Spurs were led by Manu Ginobili with 23 points and Tim Duncan had 25 points and 11 rebounds to earn his third finals’ MVP, but you have to believe Manu Ginobili was a close second in the voting. It also was coach Gregg Popovich’s third NBA title.
2005 was Robert Horry’s sixth NBA title. He won with Houston and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994 and 1995, with the Lakers and Shaquille O’ Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and with the Spurs and Tim Duncan in 2005 and 2007 for a total of seven NBA titles.
The Spurs were back in 2007 in the finals while Detroit has not returned to the finals since 2005.
Statistics for this article were from basketball-reference.com and YouTube.com
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.