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Spurs have hot shooting first half, hustle plays late to pick up comfortable win in Miami

Jun 10, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

2014 NBA Finals - Game Three Getty Images

San Antonio started off this game shooting hotter than any team in NBA Finals history had for a half (75.8 percent). They were back to being the dominant Spurs and the Heat looked shell shocked.

Yet even when the Spurs pushed the lead up to 25, the entire American Airlines Arena — and anyone who has seen the Heat play before — knew a run was coming. The Heat were going to try and force chaos on the game, where Miami thrives.

They did. It got all the way to 7 points in the third quarter.

Then the Spurs restored order.

Led by as good a game as Kawhi Leonard has ever played — 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and he was better on the defensive end on LeBron James — the San Antonio Spurs won 111-96 on the road and took Game 3.

The Spurs took a 2-1 series lead and that makes Thursday’s Game 4 pretty much a must win for the Heat. That said the Spurs won Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals handily as well, this still feels like a series that will go long.

“They came out at a different gear than what we were playing at, and it just seemed we were on our heels the most part of the first half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “And then when we started to get to a different gear in the third quarter, it was just tough to change the energy of the game.”

“They beat us and really we didn’t bring an urgency to this game tonight,” Ray Allen said in the Heat locker room. “We were just too casual.”

What has to make the Spurs feel good is they won this game on a night Tim Duncan had 14 points and Tony Parker had 15 on 4-of-10 shooting — it was the role players, and their exquisite ball movement, that keyed the offense.

San Antonio took charge from the opening tip when they shot 86.7 percent in the first quarter — they started out 19-of-21 shooting, they were 7-of-10 from three, and Boris Diaw, inserted into the starting lineup for Tiago Splitter, was +22 in the first half. The Spurs first quarter was insane as they hit 9-of-10 inside 8 feet, 4-of-4 from three, and missed their only shot from the midrange (remember the Heat forced the Spurs into 23 midrange shots in Game 2, but the Spurs were getting to the rim again in Game 3).

Kawhi Leonard, who had not stood out in the first two games, had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half (his 29 for the game is the most he has scored since high school).

“We just wanted (Leonard) to be who he’s been the whole year, in the regular season and in the playoffs,” Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I think the foul situations the first two games really he overreacted to them and became very cautious, and he doesn’t play like that.  He’s got to be real active at both ends, and so he figured it out.”

Danny Green added 13 after starting 6-of-6 shooting in the first half, he finished with 15.

The result was a 71-50 San Antonio lead at the half, which had been as much as 25 at one point. That is even more impressive when you remember San Antonio did that on the road against a Heat team that had not last at home all playoffs.

The Heat made their expected run in the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs 25-15 and holding San Antonio to 31.6 percent shooting. The Heat had a 10-0 run and cut the lead to seven with just more than two minutes left in the third. They were pressuring the ball and forcing misses.

But then the Spurs got back to crisp ball movement out of the pressure, plus they just won the hustle plays (such as Leonard chasing down Ray Allen on a breakaway and forcing a miss). The Spurs won the fourth quarter 25-17 and shot 58 percent in the Final frame.

The desperate Spurs played harder, more physical and smarter basketball all night. They earned the win and put the pressure on the Heat.

150 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. wallabear - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    The Heat are always throwing the game so they can win the championship at home. It’s become very annoying. Same as in the Pacers series, where they allow them to gain a 20-point lead before the 2nd Quarter lol Y’all ain’t foolin’ nobody down in South Beach (rolling eyes)

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      If the Heat are throwing games, they should be punished extremely heavily. The other examples of teams throwing games that I can think of are all in baseball, but the Black Sox in 1919 and Pete Rose in the 1980s. All of those affected were banned from baseball for life.

      • bougin89 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Pete Rose never threw games(at least their is no evidence of it) but he did bet on games his team played in/managed. That’s still wrong but it’s a pretty big difference.

  2. 32magicman - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    Yep. Theres only one person on the planet who loves Lebron more than antistratfordian……. And thats Lebron!! Not a champion this time, just a crampion.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:13 AM

      The Spurs are going to need quite a few more magic quarters if they want to beat King James in a series. Two wins are not going to do it.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 11, 2014 at 4:05 AM

        Keep on saying that they have 0% chance of winning…

        Keep on saying that they have to hope for LBJ to have a bad shooting night in order to win (he shot 64% last night and they still lost)

        Keep on saying that the Spurs haven’t played well on the road this post season and that the Heat hadn’t yet lost (well might wanna change that to won’t lose again at home).


        You do NOT know who is going to win.

        You WANT the Heat to win.

        Just sit back and watch and enjoy the games…

      • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 5:07 AM

        Looks like you’re projecting.

        I knew who was going to win this series years ago. At least as far back as 2009.

      • robigd - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        After a loss, you should just hide for a bit. You sound like an idiot who doesn’t watch basketball.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        You are too easily discouraged by one loss if your advice is to hide. What kind of man does that?

        Heat fans have seen far worse than what’s going on in this series – this is nothing.

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

        He likely doesn’t watch basketball, and very well may not even be a Heat fan. His intentions are clearly to instigate with delusional, absurd comments and troll, which makes him the PBT version of PFT’s logicalvoices. Might even be the same person.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        What is delusional and/or absurd about that comment?

        The Spurs have only beaten the Heat in games where they put up a record breaking quarter. They’ve been outscored over all of the 10 other quarters, 243 to 237.

      • packergator - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

        Lebron can’t do it all by himself, and players that need to step up for the Heat (hello ‘Rio) are crashing and burning. Oh, and Heat – playing with intensity shouldn’t be an issue at this point; not doing so makes people question how much you really want this title.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        LeBron can do it all by himself actually. I’ve seen him do it.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        “Two wins are not going to [win a series].”

        Now that is insightful. Next thing you know, you’ll be telling us that George Burns is old and the team that scores the most points wins the game.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        Well apparently some Spurs fans need to be reminded of the simple truths.

  3. dbfan4ever - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:02 AM

    Spurs in 5

    • packergator - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Remember – the Heat are undefeated so far coming off of a loss. Intensity shouldn’t be a problem in Game 4, since being down 3-1 going back to San Antonio would be somewhat less than ideal.

  4. heat256 - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    That was just terrible. Lazy D, sloppy ball handling, and the Spurs couldn’t miss. MIA played lost and uninspired most of the night. They need to get their s*%t together if they want to even this series up.

  5. iowahbr - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    a great number of silly posts but what about this script is new compared to last year?

    • justorion - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      The Spurs did this on Miami’s first home game of this years finals. That’s pathetic effort on the Heat. Last year the Spurs were having their blowout for their first home game of the finals.

  6. jbeagles23 - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    The heat have to play with a no point guard lineup in this series. Parker and Leonard are too much for cole and chalmers. The one truth on here is after heat wins on articles there’s 50 to 60 posts. When they lose there’s 100+. Everyone knows this series isn’t over. Sometimes a team just gets crushed, the pacers did it in game one last series

    • jkirby317 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Leonard is NOT a point guard. I think you meant Patty Mills.

    • jkirby317 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      “The one truth on here is after heat wins on articles there’s 50 to 60 posts. When they lose there’s 100+”
      Translation: the Heat do not have real fans and NOBODY likes them!

  7. heat256 - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I am OK if the Heat lose this series. The Spurs are a great team and there is no shame in losing to an esteemed group like them. What I’m not OK with is them playing like a dead man most of the games. At least look like you’re putting up a decent fight. I hesitate to blame Spo as he has generally done a great job with the rotations and subbing, but there has to be some accountability for what happened last night. Getting blown out on the road is one thing, but at home is just unacceptable. This is a champion team. They need to start playing like it from opening tip to last buzzer.

  8. shaab23 - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    The role players for the spurs are just taking it to the heat. Unless the heat’s role players (in particular Chalmers and Cole) don’t show up soon (as in tomorrow), this is gonna be a short series. Their rotations look slow, lebron looks gased, and Bosh can’t guard my 5 yr old in the post. It’s been a nice run for the heat…but congrats to the 2014 NBA Champions…the SA Spurs! I really wanted this 3-peat for Lebron(

  9. willkill4caffeine - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I need to post this for no other reason than my own sanity. This whole concept of players today complaining to the refs, whining and crying over every non-call HAS. GOT. TO. STOP. Have players today seen how physical the game of basketball was back in the 80s and 90s? When a player missed a dunk, or had the ball stolen back then, his reaction wasn’t to turn around and look for a ref to complain to, it was to GET THE EF BACK ON DEFENSE. These guys today screaming in a refs direction every time they feel they don’t get a call, what annoys me the most is they’re doing it while the play is continuing!!! So instead of hustling back on defense, they’re ALLOWING a 5-on-4 the other way just so they can look at a referee with a pained, incredulous expression and yell “That’s a foul!”. And I’m not picking on either team, both LeBron and Duncan did it WAY too many times last night for my liking. If I had my way, ANY form of complaining to the ref would be an automatic technical foul. It needs to stop. I’m usually one who hates capitalizing words in a post, but I was kinda charged up about this.

    • phillyguyindc - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      I agree, this is one of the reasons why NBA basketball is extremely hard to watch sometimes. Almost every single time down the floor there are guys complaining to refs- the offensive player if there is no call and the defensive player if there is a call. I wonder if there is anyone counting the number of possessions in which someone complains to an official.

  10. papichulo55 - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Its all Pat Riley’s fault. He can bring together the Three Amigos but can’t arrange a 45 minute blackout or scoreboard malfunction? Pat, where were you when we needed you?

  11. bball242322 - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Heat played with the same energy level lastnight as the Pacers did the past few months: none

  12. prareedoggin - Jun 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    I was at the game, the refs really ruined any momentum we gained at the end of the 3rd…. The play that I saw suck the life out the arena was when lebron was called for a travel and on the very next play had a no call on a travel by Leonard…. Horrible

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