Memorial Day Miracle

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The Memorial Day Miracle is a game-winning three-point field goal by Sean Elliott in Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals between the Blazers and Spurs at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on May 31, 1999, Memorial Day.

The play[edit]

Portland, who narrowly lost Game 1, emphatically outplayed the Spurs in the first half of Game 2, taking a 48–34 lead. The Blazers then scored the first four points of the second half, forcing Gregg Popovich to call timeout. The Spurs then went on a 9–2 run before Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy called time to break their momentum. However, the Spurs continued their run, scoring 8 unanswered to make it 54–51 and force Dunleavy to call another timeout. Stacey Augmon hit 2 free throws with 4:15 left in the quarter to finally end the Spurs' run.

The momentum went back and forth until Damon Stoudamire was fouled with 12 seconds left in the fourth. He hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 85–83. The Spurs called time to advance to halfcourt. Following the time-out, Spurs guard Mario Elie inbounded the ball past a diving Augmon to forward Sean Elliott.

Elliott, who was privately battling an ailment that required kidney transplant surgery, caught the inbounds pass near the sideline. He stayed on his toes while turning to shoot a 3, careful not to set his heels down and turn it over. With Rasheed Wallace running at him trying to block the shot, Elliott arched the ball over Wallace's outstretched hand and into the basket with 9 seconds left to give the Spurs an 86–85 lead.[1] Time expired after Portland failed to score, and the Spurs, who had trailed all game, celebrated on the court.

Significance[edit]

The "Miracle" designation relates to the combination of circumstances involved:

  1. Elliott played with a serious kidney condition and would likely have not been involved in the game had he gone through with the transplant surgery sooner.[2]
  2. The Spurs trailed by 18 (52–34) early in the third quarter; more often than not, a lead that big holds up in a playoff game.
  3. The Spurs' last play succeeded despite a near steal by Augmon, near block by Wallace and near turnover (Elliott shot the ball with his heels over the sideline).[3]

Aftermath[edit]

The Spurs won the last two in Portland for a four game sweep, then defeated the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals 4 games to 1 to win their first NBA Title.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christopher J. Walsh (2006). No time outs: what it's really like to be a sportswriter today. Taylor Trade Pub. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-58979-302-6. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Pat Williams; Michael Connelly (2012). NBA List Jam!: The Most Authoritative and Opinionated Rankings from Doug Collins, Bob Ryan, Peter Vecsey, Jeanie Bu. Running Press Book Publishers. pp. 312–. ISBN 978-0-7624-4686-5. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  3. ^ John Hareas (2003). NBA's greatest. DK Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7894-9743-7. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 

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