Seattle — Tim Duncan took a sharp pass from Manu Ginobili and banked in a short shot with 0.5 seconds left, lifting San Antonio to a thrilling 98-96 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Thursday night and putting the Spurs into the Western Conference finals.
Duncan had 26 points and nine rebounds, and the Spurs survived his 6-for-21 shooting to win the series 4-2 and move one step closer to a chance for the franchise's second NBA title in three seasons.
Tony Parker and Robert Horry each had 14 points, while Ginobili scored 13 and Nazr Mohammed added 12.
The Sonics didn't have much time for a final attempt. Antonio Daniels inbounded to Ray Allen, who lobbed a shot from the left corner over Duncan's head. It bounced off the rim, ending a remarkable season in Seattle.
Allen scored 25 points while Daniels had 22. Jerome James and Damien Wilkins each scored 10 for the Sonics, who played their third straight game - half the series - without All-Star Rashard Lewis, sidelined by a bruised toe on his left foot.
Going into the fourth quarter, Duncan had missed 12 of his 13 field-goal attempts, and he didn't make his first shot from the floor until the five-minute mark of the third period.
But he came though when it really mattered, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and scoring 12 points in the final 12 minutes. Duncan was 14-of-17 from the free-throw line, which carried him until the final period.
The Spurs also survived a scare when Duncan curled on the floor and grabbed his left foot with 8:05 remaining. He crashed into Seattle's Nick Collison on a drive, and his ankle turned when he landed squarely on Collison's foot.
After walking it off, the perennial All-Star made two free throws to put San Antonio ahead 78-77 - one of nine lead changes and five ties in the fourth quarter.
The teams traded baskets until Duncan's fifth field goal put San Antonio ahead 95-91 with 1:23 to go.
Daniels drove past Duncan to pull Seattle to 95-93 five seconds later, and James fouled out when Ginobili drove to the basket at the other end. Ginobili made one of two free throws, giving the Spurs a 96-93 lead with 58.4 seconds left.
The Sonics sure had their chances to force a Game 7 on Sunday.
Collison made a tip-in to make it 96-95 with 37.9 seconds remaining, and Duncan's try at the other end bounced off the rim with 14.4 seconds to play. Robert Horry was called for a loose ball foul, putting Daniels on the line.
Daniels missed the first free throw, sending a nervous buzz through the crowd. The second one bounced on the rim and dropped, tying it at 96. When Allen's shot missed moments later, fans stood and cheered Seattle's remarkable run.
The Sonics weren't expected by many to improve much on a 37-win season the year before, but they won the Northwest Division and 52 games.
Now the team faces a long list of offseason questions. Chief among them is whether they'll be able to re-sign Allen, who will be one of the premier free agents, and if coach Nate McMillan will return.
Things got heated midway through the third period.
Seattle collected three straight offensive rebounds - by Reggie Evans, James and Evans again - but couldn't score. Mohammed and Duncan were credited with blocked shots, the Spurs came away with a rebound and the mood turned ugly.