Spurs stun Heat to take 2-1 series lead
Agence France-Presse in San Antonio, Texas
Gary Neal scored a playoff career-high 24 points and Danny Green had a game-high 27 points as the San Antonio Spurs stunned the Miami Heat 113-77 in game three of the NBA finals.
The Spurs never trailed in the contest, seizing a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series as they gave the Heat a taste of their own medicine after Miami blew out San Antonio 103-84 in game two.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise if these are the last two teams standing this season in the NBA finals,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I don’t think either one of them is going to go down because they have a bad night.”
Kawhi Leonard finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four steals as San Antonio’s supporting cast bounced back with vengeance to rout the Heat in front of a crowd of 18,581 at AT&T Center arena on Tuesday.
Green went seven-of-nine from three-point range for the Spurs, who went on two monster runs in the second half - a 23-8 surge to start the third quarter and a 13-0 run to begin the fourth. They outscored Miami 63-33 in the second half.
“Those guys shot incredibly,” Spurs star Tim Duncan said of Green and Neal. “They gave us some breathing room when we needed it.”
Duncan finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Manu Ginobili had six assists for the Spurs, who are trying to win their fifth NBA title and first since 2007 when they knocked out a young Cleveland Cavaliers team led by LeBron James - now starring with the Heat.
Spurs also lost Tony Parker as he went to the dressing room in the third quarter with a hamstring injury in the second half. He will have it examined by team doctors on Wednesday.
History is on the side of the Spurs as the game three winner in the NBA finals series that are split 1-1 has gone on to win the title 12 of the last 13 times.
Game four is Thursday night in San Antonio.
Once again James struggled on offence but this time he didn’t get much help from his supporting cast. James scored just four points in the first half and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Dwyane Wade had 16 points and Mike Miller came off the bench to score 15 points for the Heat, who have not lost back-to-back games since early January.
“We didn’t do anything right tonight,” James said. “We can’t play like that on either side of the floor if we want to win.”
“At the end of the day it is just one win for them. We have to come out Thursday and do better.”
Neal drained a 25-foot three pointer at the buzzer for the last of his 14 points in the first half for the Spurs who took a six-point lead, 50-44, into the locker room.
Duncan made a nice pass up the floor to Neal who got the shot off just in time.
Duncan had opened the scoring in the first with a running jump shot as the Spurs came out with more energy and determination than in game two.
James had just four points in the first half as he missed a 12-foot jump shot with five seconds left in the second. James was just two-of-eight from the field in the first half and for the third straight game he scored a this year post-season low in points.
“We got what we deserved tonight,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “We know we have to improve over the next 48 hours.”
Wade had his best game of the series, but it wasn’t good enough. Wade had a hand in Miami’s first five field goals by making three baskets and getting two assists.
He scored six of the Heat’s first 12 points and finished the first half with a dozen points.