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Spurs “beautiful game” offense turned ugly in fourth quarter

Jun 9, 2014, 2:29 AM EDT

2014 NBA Finals - Game Two Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — There were points during Game 2 of the NBA Finals where you just had to be in awe of the Spurs ball movement. On one possession they got the ball to Tim Duncan on the right block then he swung it to three point line on the left side, then the ball was whipped the right top, then back to the right block — all in about three seconds.

When the Spurs play like that, it’s the beautiful game.

Then in the fourth quarter they stopped.

“The ball stuck to us,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I think we were trying to do it  we didn’t do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we’re not good enough to do that.”

San Antonio scored 18 fourth quarter points on 35.3 percent shooting, and they had an offensive rating of just 90 points per 100 possessions in that frame. The Spurs were up one with less than three minutes to go, they got some stops, but they just couldn’t get the ball inside or score.

That cost them Game 2.

Miami made one key defensive switch in the fourth quarter — they put LeBron James on Tony Parker. His size took the focal point of the Spurs offense out of the game, he was 1-of-2 shooting for 3 points with one assist in the final frame. LeBron also didn’t need help on Parker, which allowed the other Heat defenders to stay at home with their men. Also, Miami switched a lot more picks in this game, which threw the Spurs off it seemed.

But that still shouldn’t have negated the Spurs’ ball movement like it did.

“We stopped the ball,” Manu Ginobili said. “Against a team like them, we are not going to score much if we do stop the ball… But, yeah, there are moments where we forget what got us to where we are now. It happened also in Game 1. The only thing that we were perfect for moments in Game 1.”

Take a look at the Spurs possessions in the final 4:30 of the game:

Danny Green misses driving, twisting, contested lay-up.

• Ginobili missed a deep three he had to race up because the shot clock was about to expire.

• Parker hit a three pointer — Ginobili drove and got into the paint, the defense collapsed and he kicked it out to Parker. Chris Bosh was hesitant and slow on the close out. (That shot put the Spurs up one with 2:25 left).

• After the Spurs first couple actions got nowhere Parker drove the ball in but got stripped by LeBron. The Spurs retained the ball but with just 0.8 seconds left they did not get off a good look.

• Ginobili made a hard pass inside to a cutting Duncan, but it bounced off his hands out of bounds.

• Ginobili missed a step-back 18 footer.

• The Spurs got a Ginobili three at the buzzer to make it just a two-point loss.

Notice with those shots, not one was in the paint. Green missed his and Parkers’ three came off penetration and a kick-out.

Miami did well overall on defense, their rotations were sharper and they played with much more aggression. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra had said they just needed to do what they normally do for a full game, and to do it harder. Miami was far better defending the pick-and-roll and cutting off penetration before it got going.

“We had to take the challenge one-on-one and do a better job with that, contain the pick-and-rolls two-on-two to give our backside defense more help and more opportunities to make plays,” Chris Bosh said.

The question for the Spurs is how they adjust — you can bet LeBron will be back on Parker for key stretches, that can’t kill the ball movement.

For the Heat, the question is consistency — they haven’t done that these playoffs. They have been great for stretches but not entire games, or after a good one they have a bad one. Miami can’t do that against San Antonio.

We will get our answers Tuesday night.

  1. antistratfordian - Jun 9, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    Well the Heat have been more consistent in the 2014 playoffs than they were in the 2013 playoffs – especially at home. So I wouldn’t spend too much time pondering over what kind of Heat team is going to show up in Miami. And I don’t have to tell a Spurs fan about how inconsistent San Antonio has been on the road this year (5 losses in 8 games).

  2. cantonbound13 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Not going to cowardly disappear after a loss like jimmyjohnson, rodgerdodger, or fake canton. Bring it bandwagoners!

    • finsfan71 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      Hey Richie, I know you have to be especially ticked off about the Rangers. Do me a favor, have a pound of tavern ham waiting for me after work. And I don’t want any of that rancid sh-t you sell to the grocery store.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        CantonPeaBrain’s meat is rancid? Don’t worry: she’s a dooshbag.

  3. rodge1 - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    There’s cantonbound, so nice to see you Sid!… My favorite part about the win is seeing Bill Simmons’ sad face during the post game. When Miami is losing Simmons looks like his feet are being tickled, when Miami is winning he looks like he’s constipated.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      Well, that ARE normal and to be expected responses by anyone in that situation…

      I respect the Heat, but I do not want them to win…

      I looked constipated during the 4th quarter last night too…

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Difference is you’ve got a normal sized brain but CantonPeaBrain’s is pea sized.

  4. iowahbr - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Amazing thing is that Pop didn’t understand that LeBron did that to Rose many play-offs ago and he had better have a different answer than last night if it happens again. You might not like his style or bravado but James is by far and away the best player in the NBA right now and by a wide margin.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:39 AM

      You’re right that LBJ is the best player in the league right now…

      You’re incorrect that it’s by a wide margin. I’m not saying he’s only a tinge better than KD, but it closer than you’re insinuating when you say a “wide” margin…

      LBJ is #1
      KD is #2

      Put it this way, KD is closer to #1 than the #3 player is to him… be it Chris Paul, Kevin Love, James Harden, Blake Griffin or anyone else…

      • antistratfordian - Jun 10, 2014 at 5:05 AM

        “Plus, there’s one thing that Durant completely lacks that LBJ… has in spades…”

        See, the problem with Durant is that there are several ways to end that sentence.

    • aboogy123456 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      I would put chris paul number two, and agree that lebron is by far the best in the league right now. It’s not only his defense, but on offense he’s better than Durant in every way, except shooting.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        Well, I DID say that LBJ is the best…

        But PER does take into account offense, defense, rebounds, turnovers, missed shots and on and on…

        KD had a HIGHER PER than LBJ THIS season.

        LBJ is the best in the game, hands down.

        KD had a better season THIS season.

  5. jbeagles23 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    As an overall basketball player it’s a wide margin. We fall in love with Durant cause at times his offence is so pretty. But he is a sub par defender and that makes it a wide margin.

    • finsfan71 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      I like KD, he’s a scoring machine. But LeBron is a Machine. (when he’s not cramping)

  6. loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    (no dog in this fight)…unless something drastic happens…Heat have already won the title. Spurs needed game 2.

    • finsfan71 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Whoa big fella. These are not the San Antonio Pacers.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:32 AM

        LOL. gotcha, man. ehhh…just looking at trends, it just seems when the Heat win one of the 1st two…it appears to be over…BUT i digress.

    • limonadamas - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Whoa, why all the thumbs down? Isn’t it obvious? Miami took SAS’s best shot and gritted it out on the road. The Heat now have home court advantage.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        yeah…thats the way i see it too but nobody wants to hear a series is over just after two games! heck, i truly want to believe that!

  7. newyorkball82 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Missed free throws blew that game.

    • borderline1988 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      Could you imagine if Lebron missed 2 FTs in a late-game situation (which both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker managed to do last night)?

  8. aboogy123456 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Lebron played absolutely phenomenal on both ends. The refs did everything they could to give the game to the heat (and extend the series), and it was still a close game. I think the Spurs still have more things going for them than the Heat right now.

    • barkley4life - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      Lol Refs did everything to give them the game. Using refs as an excuse the hands down dumbest response a person can make.
      Spurs got to the line 20x.

      • aboogy123456 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        Hey aren’t you the guy who spent last summer complaining that John wall sucks and was not worth his contract? I guess I forgot the clown I was talking to here.

      • finsfan71 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        What do you really expect from a knucklehead masquerading as a “real” fan? Only a simpleton blames the refs and well, you see how many exist on these boards.

    • hwatt - Jun 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      there were bad calls but there were make-up calls. pretty sloppy officiating but they did balance out.

  9. jaydm84 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Tony Parker is so soft.

    • deeballer - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      He’s French, what did you expect? He’s already drawing up surrender papers right now.

  10. nard100 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Once you take Tony Parker out of the game, the plan get’s quite simple – Get it Duncan or shoot a 3. Neither of those 2 things are impossible for the Heat to defend. Nice job Spo’ figuring that out! Nice job LBJ covering Parker like a wet blanket in crunch time!

  11. jzone954 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Imagine if Lebron missed 4 straight freethrows?!?!?

  12. jzone954 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Belaneli and Tiago have totally been canceled from this series thus far. Miami
    Is going to make San Antonio run with their transition game down in MIA. 8-0 at home, crowd will be rocking , and Lebron and company feed off of that like non other. Miami has a huge chance to come back the SA up 3-1. We will see. Miami wins the next a game and they will be in complete control.

  13. jzone954 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    Refs? Both teams had 20 fouls a piece

  14. jbeagles23 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    These refs have been solid this series. Letting the two teams play. If you take it weak to the rim you don’t get the calls. The heat have been agressive and the spurs are living by the three

  15. klownboy - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    If LeBron didn’t cramp up, the Heat would be up 2-0 in this series. My “Heat in 6” prediction is looking better by the day.

  16. kgsmith - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I used bo be a huge NBA fan, that until these players that I used to look at as “superstars” have become nothing more then spoiled brats playing a grown mans game. Watching these games has become a huge “look at me” contest. Players like Paul Pierce, Lebron James, Ron Artest etc. what once was a game of skill, strategy and pure talent, has turned into a game of flopping, crying when fouls are not called and better then God egos.
    Bob Cousy would never have played a watered down version he loved so much by flopping because an elbow brushed by his chest not touching him. Charles Barkley, although a racist, played the game it was meant to be played.. with heart and determination.
    Today you have players that want to have say in who becomes the next head coach. Another that boasts about how he wants to become the first billionaire player. what happened to the game I once watched?

    • romerylb1010 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      kgsmith, very simple solution! DON’T FRICKIN WATCH!!!

      • borderline1988 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Btw, how many times did Manu Ginoibili and Tim Duncan flop last night?

        There were at least 3 occasions I can remember from last night’s game where Ginoibili threw himself to the floor in order to get a call. Luckily, the refs weren’t buying, but if the league had some integrity, they’d fine him.

      • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:26 AM

        lol.. you carry a great conversation..

  17. golfrangeman - Jun 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    @kgsmith guess what there’s only one difference….. social media. Don’t like it !! don’t watch!! And keep your stupid comments to yourself.

  18. antistratfordian - Jun 9, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    I think I may have discovered a reason why the Spurs have been so up and down in the playoffs over the years – or why they’ve never been able to sustain a championship run of any sort. The end of this game was definitely a microcosm of that.

    The Spurs offense always requires the coordination of 5 players through ball movement and constant motion – even in crunch time. Their system has so many moving parts – therefore more things required to sustain it – therefore more chances for a critical piece to break.

    On the other hand, in crunch time a team like the 90s Bulls or the 10s Heat just gives the ball to MJ or LBJ and has everyone else space the floor. Mathematically there are just less things that can go wrong. And as Edsger Dijkstra once said, “Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.”

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