Friday, November 14, 2008

Express News: Barry Recalls Final Shot In S.A.

By Mike Monroe

The last shot Brent Barry hoisted at the AT&T Center was no ordinary jumper.

What had the potential to be the biggest play of his four-year Spurs career instead became a nightmare that haunted Spurs fans for weeks.

Tonight, Barry returns to the scene of what the NBA admitted was a basketball crime, but this time in a Houston Rockets uniform. The Southwest Division-leading Rockets are to meet the Spurs at the AT&T Center for the first time since Barry signed a free-agent contract with them in July.

Through Houston's first eight games, the 36-year-old veteran has been in Rockets coach Rick Adelman's regular playing rotation, averaging 21 minutes a game on a team expected to challenge for the Western Conference title.

Barry may not be available for tonight's return to the AT&T Center, though. A sprained right thumb, suffered in the Rockets' Wednesday night victory over the

Phoenix Suns, may keep him on the sidelines. X-rays taken Wednesday were negative, but Barry said the thumb was swollen and sore on Thursday.

Regardless of his playing status, Barry knows memories will come flooding back when he walks in the Spurs' home arena.

“I've played on several teams in my career,” said Barry, now with his fourth NBA team, “and I've had the opportunity to return to places I had played for a few seasons, and always the first time you go back to that building, there is a different, strange feeling. Certainly, this arena holds a lot more favorable memories than any other. Even flying in (Thursday) afternoon, and being on a team plane that wasn't the Spurs' plane was interesting.”

His final AT&T Center memory, though, is one he would rather forget.

With the Spurs trailing the Los Angeles Lakers by two points in Game 4 of the 2008 Western Conference Finals, and with just 2.1 seconds remaining, it was Barry who freed himself for an in-bounds pass from Robert Horry.

As he wheeled for a shot from the 3-point line, Barry was jolted by Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, who knocked him off-balance. Falling to his right, Barry put up an awkward shot that could have given the Spurs a one-point victory that would have tied the best-of-7 series at 2-2.

Barry's shot never had a chance. When no foul was called, the Lakers sprinted off the court with a 3-1 lead, certain they could close out the series at home in Game 5.

Spurs fans were outraged, and the next day, the NBA reviewed the play and admitted the referees had missed Fisher's obvious foul.

Barry's reaction to the NBA's admission of referee failure was the most memorable quote of the Spurs' playoff run: “I've got Doc Brown out front with the DeLorean,” he said before Game 5 at Staples Center, recalling the 'Back to the Future' film series about a scientist who turns an automobile into a time machine. “We're going to fire up the flux capacitors, go back in time and shoot a couple of free throws.”

Instead, the Spurs have been caught in a present tense that has been a whirlpool of negative feedback: They lost Game 5, Barry opted to become a Rocket, All-Star shooting guard Manu Ginobili's Olympic injury required surgery in September, and now All-Star point guard Tony Parker is out four weeks with a sprained ankle.

Since Barry's Game 4 miss, the Spurs have gone 2-6.

“Who knows what could have transpired,” Barry said of the foul that never was called.

Barry insists he and his teammates put the non-call behind them, even when the mistake was acknowledged.

“The game is the game,” he said, “and it was over and done with. We all just tried to move on and get ready for next game we were about to play.”

Tonight, the next game is Spurs vs. Rockets. It will be played, even if Barry isn't in uniform.

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