The Greatest Shot that was Overshadowed in 0.4 Seconds
Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Western Conference Semifinals had two of the greatest shots in NBA history; one will be replayed forever but one has been forgotten because it was not the game winner.
The series was tied with the Spurs at home with a chance to take a commanding 3–2 lead.
The game was back-and-forth the entire contest. The Spurs had a 1 point lead with 30 seconds remaining when Kobe put up a classic Kobe-shot off a Mail Man screen.
72–71. 11.5 remaining.
After a Spurs timeout, the ball was inbounded to Tim Duncan — who was being smothered by Shaq. Duncan dribbled the ball to the top of the key and put up a shot.
Shaq was all over Duncan. Duncan, falling to his left and away from the basket, while Karl Malone was closing-in on him, somehow miraculously hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
0.4 seconds was all that was left for the Spurs. The shot all but assured the Spurs a win, barring something historic.
As the Playoffs have taught all sports fans, history can happen at any time.
There were three straight timeouts called. The first by the Lakers to advance the ball and set up the play. Next the Spurs used one to bolster their defense, causing LA to take one more.
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime since Duncan’s shot, the final 0.4 was set to be played.
Gary Payton has in charge of making the correct pass. Kobe ran away from the basket and was double-teamed. The ball could not go to him, but this cleared out the defender that should have been on Payton, leaving him a clear pass to Fisher.
All in one motion.
An eternity passed for everyone on the court, in the arena and watching at home. The ball fell like a splash in a bucket.
73–72. Lakers win.
Fisher sprinted off the court in celebration. He later explained this by saying “There’s no overturning, no coming back on the court. Game over. Let’s go.”
The shot was immediately reviewed and the ball was just off of the fingertips. It was good and confirmed a Lakers victory.
The Spurs filed a protest after the game, claiming that the clock was not started correctly, giving Fisher more time to turn around and release than he should have.
The Spurs had lost three in a row and now had to go to LA and win or their season was over.
Even though the Lakers did not go on to win the title. Even though that 2004 team had Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Rick Fox, Derek Fisher had the lasting memory of that team.
A lasting memory that wiped out of the the greatest shots by one of the greatest players in NBA history.