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Spurs get a little revenge, along with season’s signature win in takedown of Heat

Mar 6, 2014, 11:40 PM EST

lebron duncan

In the first meeting of the season between the Heat and the Spurs, Miami had little trouble securing victory in the Finals rematch, in large part due to the fact that the Spurs were cobbling together a lineup that didn’t entirely feature the team’s best players.

The rematch of the rematch, however, saw the Spurs essentially at full strength.

That lineup from top to bottom proved too difficult for the Heat to deal with at this stage of the season, and behind 23 points from Tim Duncan and excellent defense from Kawhi Leonard which produced five of his team’s nine steals, the Spurs evened the season series by cruising to a 111-87 victory over the defending champs.

San Antonio’s overall team defense stifled the Heat, and it didn’t help that LeBron James chose to settle for long jumpers when they clearly weren’t falling for him for a second straight game. He ditched his protective face mask in the first half thinking that might have been the issue, and afterward reverted to blaming the sleeves on his jersey — just as he did on Christmas Day — for his poor outside shooting performance.

But none of that was anywhere close to a valid reason for the missed shots.

This Spurs team is deep when fully healthy, and the players know their respective roles in the team’s grand scheme. The defense was superb, but the attacking offense, led by Tony Parker‘s ability to get into the paint, created high-percentage shots at the rim over and over again, especially in the first half.

Take a look at the Spurs shot chart for the game’s first 24 minutes.

source:

Fifteen of San Antonio’s 22 made field goals in the first half came in the restricted area — an insane amount against a team that’s just slightly above the league average in defensive efficiency.

While the Spurs looked like a cohesive unit attacking on both ends of the floor, Miami looked uncharacteristically out of sync. James managed to shoot just 6-of-18 from the field to finish with 19 points, but a lot of that was due to shot selection, which was at times heavily influenced by the Spurs defense.

This was an important victory for the Spurs, who haven’t had many at all to hang their hat on this season. For Miami, the perspective is a bit different. The Heat are collecting themselves for the final stretch of the regular season, and defending their title is of the utmost importance.

That journey is bound to be fraught with unpleasant steps along the way, but for a Heat team that has played into June the last three seasons, losses to title contenders at this stage of the season are of little significance. Rather, they provide film to pore over when the championship chase begins in earnest a few short weeks from now.

  1. kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    It is really a shame that the Spurs gave away the title last season (with the help of a miracle from Ray Shuttlesworth). As a direct result now we have LBJ fans placing him along, or above, the all time greats. To place LBJ above the likes of Magic, MJ, Kobe, Bird, Kareem, etc. is utterly laughable. He is more physically gifted than them all. But more skilled? I beg to differ. The whole LBJ narrative would be different today had he lost another finals. But because the Spurs gift wrapped a title, and Ray made a miracle shot, we now have LBJ talking about being on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore!

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      everyone knows the 5 best players are Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan and Dylan

      • 6stn - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:14 AM

        Helluva songwriter, too.

      • unxpexted1 - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

        I spit hot fiyah!

    • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      As a Spurs fan, I gave LeBron a lot of credit – he brought a ton of energy to the final minutes of each game of the finals. I thought he earned it, even though he needed a miracle shot from Ray to push it to OT in game 6.

      But, I’m not convinced that this current Heat lineup can do it again – their bench is horrible compared to some of the other top teams. And I doubt he’ll be facing the Spurs – I’m not sure the Heat can get past the Pacers, and I’m really liking what the Clippers are putting together in LA this year.

      • spursareold - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        To put it kindly, CP3 isn’t the most clutch playoff performer. The fact that he is so ball dominant makes it easier to defend the LAC for the Spurs. Cut off the head of the snake, and all that.

    • calkinsrob - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      UGH!!! can we stop saying ray allen “saved” lebron? the dude scored like 20 points in the 4th quarter to get the heat back in it. Clutch isn’t just the last second shot. Numbers wise you have to think of him like that. Its not all about the numbers I know but most of the praise Lebron is getting is deserved. hes one of the best we get to see play.

      • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        Without Allen’s miracle shot, LeBron would have lost another finals. He would be 1-3 for his career. How else would you term it? The dude saved him.

      • bknowledge - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        If the Spurs had won last year, there was virtually no way Lebron could ever get ahead of Duncan on the list of all time greats.

      • money2long - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Question. Would lebron say Ray Allen saved lebron ?
        I’m leaning toward yes.

      • reesesteel23 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        you cant win this argument……Ray taking and making that shot was the worse thing that could have happened to Lebron. Unless he scores every single point on the scoreboard, a lot of people will find some reason not to give him his props. They’re reaching so much now-a-days its hilarious

      • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        No, the reason you can’t win this argument is that if Ray doesn’t make that shot, the Heat lose the finals 4 games to 2. Wouldn’t matter how many points LeBron had in the 4th quarter – a loss is a loss is a loss. By any definition of the word “save”, LeBron and the Heat desperately needed “saved” in a game they were certain to lose, and Ray “saved” them with a miracle shot.

    • trevor123698 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      you forgot the stilt,russell, dr j, moses malone and a couple of other who are well ahead of kobe, bird and MJ. right on with magic and kareem

    • Miami305 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      Your comment means nothing because the fact is he didn’t lose another Finals, the Heat won. This is akin to saying, “The whole MJ narrative would be different today had he lost 6 Finals,” but he didn’t lose, he won. Lebron will go down as one of the greats. Get over it.

    • notinmyhouse56 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:48 AM

      dude please don’t remind me… with 37 seconds left (or smth) I started shouting and running around my house from joy. I was so happy, but I directly went to sleep, because I live in Europe and it was 5 and I had some issues that morning. Imagine my surprise, after waking up the most happy person on earth just to read the info on nba.com…

      • notinmyhouse56 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:51 AM

        + have the class not to mention his 20-point fourth quarter. You then should mention his 2 turnovers in the last minute as well…

    • rodyaugu - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      Ohh, The IF narratives. You watch too much N if l By Dave Dameshek.

  2. kb2408 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    I guess LBJ was “tired” again tonight.

    • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      Nice job by your Lakers tonight. Only down by 38 points in the 3rd quarter. Nice effort there.

      • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:29 AM

        Kept it under a 50-point loss. Impressive.

      • money2long - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        Lol. Um. Nice comeback ?
        Smh.

    • killermoney - Mar 7, 2014 at 4:25 AM

      no, he scored 61 again tonight… did u miss it..??
      another fabricated 61 points…

      after all this years dude still doesn’t have a decent outside shot.. don’t believe me , look for the outside the paint %. In the finals he was shooting 18 % outside the paint ( not including the last finals). And I think the last finals he shot 34 % from outside the paint. Cut the cherry picking and fast breaks and you’ll have a good chance to beat them..The Spurs theory..

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        For the record, LeBron is shooting 42.6% from 8-16 feet, 38.9% from 16-24 feet, 37.6% beyond 24 feet. Or, if you prefer, 39.7% from the midrange, 55.2% on corner threes and 34.7% on threes above the break. Stats via the NBA.

  3. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    Blaming the sleeves? Really? I try to cut the guy a break, but then he says something else that makes me regret giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    • ranfan12 - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Well he’d been pulling at the sleeves since the first quarter >_>

  4. ProBasketballPundit - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Signature win? Are you kidding me? It’s their first win against one of the contenders all season.

    • apkyletexas - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      Considering that their last 8 games include road wins over the Clippers and Blazers and this home win against the Heat, I’m not sure I’d agree with you there. Although, they still need to show they can beat the Thunder.

    • savvybynature - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:33 AM

      Yep, Spurs suck. Somehow went off a cliff after coming as close as possible to winning the Finals last season and bringing back all their core players, plus Belineli. They have no chance, again.
      *rolls eyes

  5. shaggytoodle - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    The dude has crazy skills, but of all the things he could say: Didn’t have my a game, had an off night.

    He is suppose to be the best player at hoops on the planet, yet sleeves can slow him down.

    • trevor123698 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      lol yeah these excuses do not bold well for his chances to 3 peat.

  6. dolphindubs - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    @kb2408

    Just realize, LeBron and Miami were as close to winning three straight as they were to only winning one. Dallas didnt beat them in the Finals, they beat themselves. So the narrative could be different that way as well.

    Coulda woulda shoulda….yadayadayada. LeBron has two rings. Man up and stop disrespecting that fact.

    • savvybynature - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      Dallas beat them in 6 though. It wasn’t like last season’s Finals that were basically as close as reasonably possible.

      • money2long - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Lebron fans do not like the rings to be analyzed. They just want u to see two as two. Yet. When it comes to judging against Kobe’s rings, they’ll analyze Til the cows come home. Why can’t five be five for him ? And why can’t we stop disrespecting his rings ? I find the double standard’ing lebron fans to be quite sickening.

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        I think the “count the ringzzzzzz” argument is foolish in every instance. The flaw with the rings argument between Kobe and LeBron is twofold: 1) LeBron is still in his prime, Kobe is past his and most likely done collecting them so we do not know how many LeBron will end up with (probably not 5); 2) Kobe came into the league on a team near title contention (Shaq, vets around them) while LeBron was in a much different situation. Apples and oranges.

      • money2long - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Lol nice touch on the zzzz’s

        But to your point , Kobe rising the ranks after being a less heralded player coming into the league than lebron holds a lot of significance in my mind. During Kobe’s chip runs, he was scouted as hard as lebron was. It would have been foolish for teams to not give him that much attention. He may not have been the first option, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t capable of being that for a team. It was just the dynamics at the time. I think first option is much different than talent level. Would durant be the first option on a team with lebron ? (Yes I’m saying Glendon is better than kd, cuz he is ppl). It doesn’t negate durant’s talent. It would just be the dynamics. People want to lower Kobe’s value to some chip runs simply because he wasn’t the number one alpha dog.

      • money2long - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Lmao. Glendon ?
        Autocorrect is a “B”…
        Lebron is better *

  7. barkley4life - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    If you’re still coming up with lame attempts to put down James you’re a biased idiot that knows jack about basketball.

  8. dolphindubs - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    @apkyletexas

    Without Horry or Fishers shots, Kobe wouldnt have the rings he has. Without Paxsons or Kerrs shots, Jordan wouldnt have the rings he has. Etc., etc., etc.,….

    C’mon dude (or chick, or transgender, or any of the other labels one can identify with). If youre going to hold it against one, you have to hold it against ALL.

  9. cranespy - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Is it just me or are there others who just don’t get Lebron? He is a gifted athlete no doubt but his penchant for drama (the face when he gets called for a foul) or arrogance (his thug pose with the trophies last year replete with gangsta glasses) or immaturity (the over the top celebrations over the least little thing) Not to mention the interviews……hopefully they get nowhere ear the title this year.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      WTF is a thug pose?…

    • rodyaugu - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Thug pose and gangsta glasses? BS like that can only come from you.

  10. bknowledge - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Can someone explain the “and-1″ continuing my shot rule? Last night Bellinelli is going up for 3 point shot, he gets hit in the head, resets his shot in a smooth motion (less than half a second) and he gets no continuation. Wade gets hit in the lane takes another step and releases a shot…and that’s an and-1. Is the “and-1″ rule really so different for stationary jump shooters than drivers?

    I was watching the broadcast and Tony parker doesn’t get a breakaway and Greg Anthony is saying he has to have possession when the foul occurs. A minute later Boris gets called for a breakaway foul on Lebron…but the ball hadn’t even reached Lebron…the foul occurs well before the pass makes it to Lebron (Lebron was in the front court when the foul occured, the ball was still in the backcourt). I am not familiar with that rule…for a breakaway foul to be called, does the player have to have possession of the ball?

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      The rule is you have begun your shot process, but that can include another step so long as there is no dribble. If you reset then you were not in your motion.

  11. billtetley53 - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    Pay no mind to kb2408. He is a basketball know nothing, and a very large hypocrite. You should check out the lakers articles where he calls everyone a hater if you, in the least, disparage the lakers. Yet here he is, tearing down LeBron. He hates LeBron because he knows Kobe is going to be a footnotevin NBA history when LeBron is done. It tears him up inside.

    You see, he’s a 40 year old man that has a huge crush on Kobe. What kind of middle aged man would have screennames such as “kb2408″ and “lakerluver”? ( yes, he’s that idiot too).
    This guy says he’s going to cry when Kobe retires…. that’s just creepy.

    This is a guy who :

    Said Jerry West couldn’t play defense.
    Said the Spurs haven’t won a title since 2003.
    Said that Bill Russel was no good because he only scored 15ppg.
    Didn’t know(as a lakers fan) that Worthys # was retired.
    This is just a small sample of his “knowledge”. He is here for you to ridicule.

    • rodyaugu - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      He said all that?

  12. azarkhan - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I will never understand some peoples pathological dislike of LeBron James. He is simply one of the best to ever play the game and he plays it the correct way, i.e., with him it’s about team, not personal ego (he leads the Heat in assists). Even if he had never won a title he would still be one of the best ever. But he’s been to 4 Finals and won two. Besides, anybody would could take that Cleveland team to a Finals like he did is clearly a special player.

  13. reesesteel23 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    How do they go from a top 5 bench to a “horrible” bench after this 1 loss?

    I think the more accurate statement would be that they played horrible Last night.

  14. billtetley53 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    rody: He most certainly did. Most of the foolishness is posted under his lakerluver moniker. (If you are ever bored and have some time to kill, Google laker liver probasketballtalk) and just read some the absolutely awful, misinformed, fanboy comments you will ever see. You can do the same with his current kb2408 handle.

    I mean these blatant mistakes he’s made, with the web at our fingertips, there is just no excuse for it. But with the laker stuff, he’s supposedly this huge fan and to not know about West and Worthy, that just tells you all you need to know about the guy and why he invites your ridicule.

    There are other “gems” he’s posted, but those are the biggies.

  15. billtetley53 - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    rody, since my last posting didn’t make it…yes he’s said all that and a lot more.

    If your bored, and have the time, Google lakerluver and pro basketball talk. or kb2408 along with pbt. Its mind numbing how ignorant and unobjective he is.

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