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Memory of '13 Finals loss drove Spurs
Concord's Matt Bonner, left, embraces teammate Patty Mills after the Spurs clinched the championship with a 104-87 Game 5 victory over the Miami Heat at AT&T Center in San Antonio Sunday night. (USA TODAY Sports)
“What happened last year definitely helped our drive and helped us stay focused for an extended period of time,” he said. “It very easily could have hit us in different ways, and we could have reacted in different ways.
Bonner played 6 minutes, 59 seconds in this year’s clincher. A 10-year NBA veteran who became a free agent with the season’s conclusion, he didn’t score but was credited with two assists.
San Antonio and Miami split the first two games of this year’s NBA Finals, but something changed for the Spurs, and they were virtually flawless in the next three games to claim the title.
San Antonio then lost Game 7 and spent the offseason wondering how the game slipped away.
On Sunday, the Heat raced out to a 22-6 lead and the once-boisterous San Antonio crowd of nearly 19,000 turned quiet, wondering if another meltdown was in the cards.
“We knew they’d come out and try to knock us down early, and I think we helped that. We just came out, we weren’t getting shots up, we were turning the ball over.
The Spurs battled back, outscored the Heat 25-11 in the second quarter and led 47-40 at halftime.
Manu Ginobili, who scored 19 points on Sunday, also said last year’s disappointment was instrumental in winning this year.
“We all felt that we let (our) teammates down. But we worked hard. Every game in the regular season, we were trying to get better, to have the same opportunity again. We got to this spot, and we didn’t let it go.
The New Hampshire Union Leader staff contributed to this report.