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Spurs host Game 6 tonight



Published: Tue, June 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Detroit trails 3-2 in the series and must win twice in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The horn-honking along Commerce Street lasted into the wee hours of the morning Monday, Spurs fans exercising their preferred yet peculiar brand of free speech to celebrate their team's overtime victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Unique among NBA fans in terms of revelry customs, Spurs fans bring a small-town fervor to every corner of their big city, attaching small team flags to their car antennas and heading downtown after big wins to blare their horns, hang out their windows and scream.

"Nobody got shot. No cars were turned over. Nothing got set on fire. We know how to party here. No one gets hurt," said Jon Lauzon, a bartender who left work at 2:30 a.m. and heard the cacophonous serenade that prompted hotel guests from out of town to complain about the noise.

Closed freeway two years ago

Police closed off the downtown freeway exits two years ago when the Spurs finished off the New Jersey Nets to win the NBA championship, causing such massive traffic tie-ups that fans jumped out of their cars and partied on Interstate 35.

It was safe to assume folks would be gassing up their pickup trucks and SUVs all day Tuesday, just in case it's a championship night. San Antonio leads the Detroit Pistons 3-2 in the best-of-seven 7 following Sunday's 96-95 overtime victory on Robert Horry's 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining.

The loss was so gut-wrenching to Pistons coach Larry Brown that he stayed up all night before heading off to meet his team for their flight to Texas.

"If they felt like me, they're one step out of the grave," Brown said. "I'm not a good flyer, so one valium and the film, that'll get me down to San Antonio."

5,000 fans greet Spurs

The Spurs slept in their own beds for the first time in a week after being greeted at the airport by an estimated 5,000 fans upon their pre-dawn arrival from Auburn Hills.

The airport mob scene has become such a local ritual that the Spurs' marketing department provides music and sends the Spurs' dance team to perform for crowds awaiting the charter flight's arrival at a hangar on the north side of the airfield. The team even keeps a portable microphone on hand, and Horry obliged the screaming masses with an impromptu 3 a.m. speech.

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And I joined the Spurs," shouted Horry, whose career with the Los Angeles Lakers ended after he missed a similar shot against San Antonio in Game 5 of the 2003 playoffs.

Resilient Pistons

The euphoria will be short-lived, however, if the Pistons pull off another of the resilient performances that defined their past two postseasons. Detroit was down 3-2 to the New Jersey Nets last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals before winning the final two games, and the Pistons also came back from a 3-2 deficit against Miami earlier this month in the Eastern Conference finals.

The difference this time is that they'll have to win two straight times on the road against a team that has lost only five times in 50 games at the SBC Center.

Lost 10 straight in San Antonio

Detroit has lost 10 straight times in San Antonio since 1997, and since the 2-3-2 format was implemented in 1985, the home team is 7-0 in Game 6s when holding a 3-2 lead.

"A good friend of mine called me this morning and reminded me about the Red Sox," Brown said. "They had to go in Yankee Stadium and win two, and they weren't the defending champs. So I'm confident our guys will show up and play their best game."




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