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Spurs get jump on Pistons in Game 1


SAN ANTONIO - So how about those 24-second violations, offensive fouls, box outs, help rotations and inside switches?

Yes, it was defensive basketball as promised last night from the league's two best defensive teams when the NBA Finals opened with the San Antonio Spurs defeating the Detroit Pistons, 84-69.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday at the SBC Center in San Antonio.

San Antonio's Manu Ginobili had an awesome second half, especially in the fourth quarter when his drives into the lane produced several impressive baskets. Ginobili shot 9-for-10 in the second half and led all scorers with 26 points.

"I struggled in the first half, so I was very upset. I tried to come back with more energy and more aggressiveness," Ginobili said.

The third-year guard from Argentina shot 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter to help San Antonio outscore the Pistons 29-18 over the final 12 minutes.

Tim Duncan chipped in with 24 points and Tony Parker scored 15 for the Spurs, who recovered from an early 13-point deficit to win the opener - only the third time in NBA history the past two champions have squared off in the Finals.

Neither team scored more than 20 points in any of the first three quarters.

The point total tied for the fourth-lowest in the finals in the shot clock era, eight off the record set on April 7, 1955, when Fort Wayne beat Syracuse, 74-71. The Pistons' 69 points were the third-lowest in the finals, 15 off Utah's total in a 32-point loss to Chicago on June 7, 1998.

"True basketball enthusiasts who know how the game should be played will love this," Piston Lindsey Hunter said. "Other people who want stars, all the underlying stories and all that, they probably won't be too intrigued."

San Antonio began to pull away after Ben Wallace was called for the technical foul for ripping off his headband and complaining after he was called for the blocking foul when he thought it should have been a charge on Ginobili.

Ginobili's free throw started a 5-0 run that ended with him driving the lane and again flattening Wallace - this time with nothing called - to make it 60-53. Two more drives into the lane ending in baskets followed during a 7-0 run, Ginobili drawing a foul against Richard Hamilton on the second one and completing the three-point play for a 67-55 lead with 7:38 remaining.

It was 74-57 before Detroit had a 10-0 run to quiet the Spurs' crowd, but Ginobili brought them back to life by driving the lane for a left-handed dunk and then hitting a three-pointer with 2 minutes left.

The Pistons' length bothered the Spurs right from the start, with Rasheed Wallace able to poke the ball away for two steals in the first 6 minutes as the Pistons opened a 13-4 lead. Duncan had a turnover, a missed dunk and a bobbled shot attempt before he made his first basket, clearly bothered by Rasheed Wallace's defense.

A blocked shot by Chauncey Billups (25 points) led to a layup by Hamilton for a 17-4 lead. The Spurs pulled to 20-17 by the end of the first quarter and trailed 37-35 at the half.

"We knew it was going to be like this; these guys are a heck of a defensive squad," Duncan said.

NOTES: Deputy commissioner Russ Granik told members of the NBA's competition committee to prepare for a lockout, four league sources, including two NBA general managers, have told ESPN.com. ...

Phil Jackson expects to decide in "another day or two" whether he will return to coaching the Los Angeles Lakers or some other NBA team next season. Jackson said last night that he's talking to some teams about their vacancies, but giving first priority to the Lakers.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

NBA Finals

San Antonio vs. Detroit

Best of seven; *-if necessary

All games on chs. 2, 7

(San Antonio leads series 1-0)

Last night: San Antonio, 84-69

Sunday: at San Antonio, 9 p.m.

Tuesday: at Detroit, 9 p.m.

Thursday: at Detroit, 9 p.m.

*June 19: at Detroit, 9 p.m.

*June 21: at San Antonio, 9 p.m.

*June 23: at San Antonio, 9 p.m.

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