Robert Horry is known for making big shots in the waning moments of key games throughout his career. But the biggest shot of “Big Shot Bob’s” career was made in Game 1 of the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
Late in the game, Horry’s left elbow sent two-time league MVP Steven Nash flying into the scorers table, leading to the suspension of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for Game 5. Horry’s actions altered the direction of the 2007 NBA playoffs because the Suns would have won the series if Stoudemire and Diaw been in the lineup for Game 5.
Here’s why: The Suns had just won a game in which they were trailing by a large margin and had to fight very hard to win, in San Antonio nonetheless. They had regained home court advantage and finally figured out the master plan to contain Tim Duncan inside with Kurt Thomas, while being able to score on the other end against the Spurs’ big men, such as Francisco Elson. In other words, Mike D’Antoni was out-coaching Gregg Popovich. Nash was being hounded, hacked and chased, but still managed over 20 points and 12 assists per game, and Shawn Marion was outplaying Bruce Bowen. They might have lost Game 6 back on the road, but with Nash leading the way, and the experience of losing the past two seasons, they would have been prepared for a Game 7 at home.
Of course we will never know how the Suns could have done because expecting them to win without a guy who scored 25 percent of their points, as well as his backup, is absurd. They only came close in Game 5 because they were feeding off the anger and emotion from the play in Game 4 and the suspensions from the league.
You can’t fault Horry though; in fact, he should be praised. He is a competitor and I am sure he didn’t intend for the ensuing results to occur, but he had to foul and as my intramural basketball team does, he fouled hard. The Spurs are increasing their reputation as a dirty team, and the truth is that it works for them. Yes, Bowen is cheap. After this year’s playoffs there is no doubt about it. Horry can’t be labeled as a dirty player, yet what he did was no accident and I am sure regardless of whether Stoudemire and Diaw charged the court, he would have done it again.
The NBA itself is really at fault. I understand that the rules are the rules and if you don’t follow them then it creates disorder, but use common sense David Stern! These two guys didn’t have any involvement in the altercation and for all we know didn’t say anything. Boris Diaw clearly realized he was in the wrong after three steps and went back immediately. It was a reaction of emotions that were actually restrained quite quickly and they should not have been penalized for that. The league should have changed this rule a long time ago and at least should have downgraded the penalty to fines for the players in the incident. The NBA has changed basketball from a competitive sport to an upscale, no contact fairy tale, but unfortunately, at this point there doesn’t appear to be much that can be done to fix it.