AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—Big Shot Bob hates his nickname. Robert Horry doesn’t like the expectations or the arrogance implied by such a label—and nobody calls him Bob in real life, anyway.
Too bad, Bob. After the San Antonio forward’s breathtaking performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, he’ll be a Big Shot until they carve it on his tombstone.
Horry’s 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left in overtime probably will live for decades on highlight reels of the Spurs’ 96-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, which put San Antonio up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
But that shot produced just the last of his 21 points, all scored after the final second of the third quarter. Except for a 3-pointer to open the fourth, every single one of his points either tied the game or put San Antonio ahead.
Sorry, Bob. Those are definitely Big Shots.
“You can make it Rob, R-O-B, but B-O-B, that’s not me,” Horry said with a laugh.
“It’s Bobby Horry,” said Tim Duncan, whose missed tip-in at the regulation buzzer could have been disastrous if not for Horry’s heroics. “He does whatever he wants to do. He’s Big Shot Bob.”
The backup forward with five championship rings carried the Spurs through the final minutes, making five 3-pointers and adding a dramatic dunk in overtime, when Duncan’s struggles and Tony Parker’s terrible defense on Chauncey Billups were threatening to sink San Antonio.
Horry scored the final five points of the game after Detroit took a four-point lead—and judging by the audible unease in Section 107 when Horry inbounded the ball before his game-winner, Detroit’s fans knew what was about to happen, even if the Pistons didn’t.
“I just got the ball back, and since I was shooting well, I wanted to let it fly,” said Horry, who surpassed Michael Jordan’s career finals record for 3-pointers earlier in the series. “I’m the type of player, I want to win a game. I don’t want to go to overtime. I’m always going to go for a 3.”
When Richard Hamilton badly missed his final shot for the stunned Pistons, Horry was mobbed by his teammates following the first close game of this series. The Spurs headed home to Texas with two chances for one more victory to clinch their third NBA championship in seven seasons, starting with Game 6 on Tuesday night.
Before Horry’s final shot, Rasheed Wallace inexplicably double-teamed Manu Ginobili in the corner in a gamble that left Detroit coach Larry Brown speechless after the game. Horry walked to the 3-point line, got the return pass and buried the open shot.
“The play was for me to take that shot, but then I saw Rasheed coming,” said Ginobili, who had 15 points and nine assists. “My first option in those moments was Robert. He’s a winner. He’s been in that situation so many times. Everyone knows what he does.”
Hamilton showed none of Horry’s grace on the Pistons’ final possession, clumsily attempting to draw a foul before badly missing his shot. Bruce Bowen rebounded, and the Spurs shot onto the court for a celebration.
“You can’t go back and say shoulda, woulda, coulda,” said Wallace, who scored 12 points. “It was caught in the corner, and I just tried to double. Now we have a day and a half. We’re cool.”
The Pistons’ task is dire: They haven’t won in San Antonio in 10 tries since April 2, 1997, and the Spurs are 45-5 at home this season.
But the Pistons have won nine playoff series over the last three seasons on the fuel of disrespect and disbelief. They’ve rallied from 3-2 series deficits twice in the last two years—in last season’s conference semifinals against New Jersey, and again in this spring’s Eastern Conference finals against Miami.
The finals have been tied 2-2 in 23 previous years, and the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the title 17 times. The Game 5 loser most recently rallied to win in 1994, when the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks twice.
The Spurs easily could have won it in regulation. With the score tied at 89 in the final seconds, Ginobili drove the lane and missed a tough runner, but Duncan was in perfect position to slam home the rebound with a second left. But the shot clipped the rim, and Duncan fumbled at the ball before missing the tip.
Duncan also missed six free throws in the fourth quarter, leaving him embarrassed and relieved despite recording 26 points and 19 rebounds.
“He pulled me out of an incredible hole that I put myself in,” Duncan said. “Everybody just kept on playing. We just kept on pushing through.”
Heading to overtime, Detroit seemed ready to sweep the middle three games of the finals for the second straight season. Billups, the Pistons’ own Mr. Big Shot, scored 21 of his 34 points in the second half—but he missed a driving shot with 9.4 seconds left in overtime.
Big Shot Bob took it from there.
“There’s nothing you can really say about him,” Billups said of Horry. “He was unbelievable. He made all the right plays at the right times.”
The Spurs outscored Detroit 21-19 in the second quarter, ending the Pistons’ string of eight consecutive quarters outscoring San Antonio. That’s an NBA Finals record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Wallace attempted to call timeout in the final second of regulation, even though the Pistons didn’t have one. The officials allowed time to run out instead. … In a completely unrelated sighting, Detroit native Chris Webber attended the game. … In Game 2 of last season’s NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant hit a 3-pointer from the left wing—nearly the same spot as Horry’s big shot—to send it to overtime, with the Lakers winning in overtime.