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"We were in great condition down the stretch," said Stoudemire, whose 42 points matched the season-high for a Suns' player.

A friend of mine asked me about the above sentence, and the phrase, "down the stretch", has been used in NBA very often. I don't know what it means because I'm not really familiar with sports. Could any one tell me its meaning in NBA?

Thank you! Emotion: smile
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Towards the end

Imagine a 100m dash track, looking from the start towards the end ...
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Down the stretch is originally a term from horse racing.

And down the stretch they come! is famously said by the announcer in calling a horse race right before the finish. It's probably the last chance for them to jockey for position for the big finish..

Just looked it up and it was popularized by this announcer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave Johnson(announcer)

Down the stretch in basketball means towards the end of the game sometimes known as crunch time. If you perform well at the end of a game, you're considered "a clutch player." Basketball is a game of swings and changes in momentum and team get big leads and then quickly lose them all the time. As the time of the game gets closer to the end it becomes harder to score, because defense is better because everyone is a little more focused. Each play seems to mean more than earlier in the game. There was a famous game where the Pacers were down by 6 to the Knicks with only 18 seconds left. And Reggie Miller of the Pacers scored 8 points in 9 seconds and the Pacers took the lead.
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In this case you would say the Knicks collapsed down the stretch.

Down the stretch meaning, ends toward the game.

The final moments of the game, especially when the two teams have very close points and the result of the game can change with one goal

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"The stretch" in horseracing is a straight part of the oval. The long one on the side opposite the start is the backstretch. The shorter one before the finish line is the homestretch. In other sports, it has come to mean the last several games of the season in reference to the homestretch, not any part of an individual game.