It’s Dec. 9, 2004, in Houston. Less than a third of the way through the regular season, the surging 16-4 Spurs are taking on the middling 8-11 Rockets. San Antonio is inbounding the ball up by two points with 11.2 seconds left. But just a half-minute ago the Spurs were in full control and up eight points.
We’re used to this Spurs team. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan continue to show why this team is a favorite to win their second championship in three years. Their opponents, on the other hand, verge on unrecognizable. A new arena, new jerseys, and a new look roster haven’t hidden the blemishes of this Rockets team. But with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, if nothing else, they’ve been very exciting and are looking to add themselves to the list of threats in the conference.
So how did we get to this point so quickly: a team known for their stingy defense squandered an overwhelming lead? We’re about to reach the peak of a moment that’s regarded as one of the greatest individual comebacks in NBA History, but to get there and the moments leading up to the climb. Let’s rewind.