Saturday, January 20, 2018
Sports

Fast start lifts Spurs past Heat for 2-1 NBA Finals lead

MIAMI — Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 29 points, leading five Spurs in double figures, as San Antonio rode a record first half Tuesday night to a 111-92 victory over the Heat to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots and hit 75.8 percent in the best-shooting half in Finals history, racing to a 71-50 halftime lead.

"I don't think we'll ever shoot 76 percent in a half ever again," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Leonard shot 10-for-13 in the game and Danny Green shot 7-for-8 in scoring 15 for San Antonio.

"I just was able to get in a rhythm tonight," Leonard told ESPN.

Leonard made his first six shots and scored 18 first-half points for the Spurs after two quiet games in San Antonio. Green added 13 points in the first 24 minutes, going 6 for 6, as San Antonio finished 25 of 33, bettering the 75 percent shooting by Orlando against the Lakers in the 2009 Finals.

"We came out and played in a different gear that what we were playing in," Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. "It just seemed we were on our heels for the most part of the first half.

"You have to really give (the Spurs) credit for coming out with an aggressive mind-set on both ends."

Tony Parker also had 15 points and Tim Duncan scored 14.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had 22 points each for the Heat, which hosts Game 4 on Thursday.

Miami closed within 11 points after three quarters but the Spurs pulled away in the fourth.

James scored 16 for the Heat in the first half, which made 56 percent but were at risk of getting blown out of their own building because of the Spurs' ruthless execution.

Returning to the arena where they were oh-so-close to winning a fifth championship last year, the Spurs came out playing like they were trying to build a lead that was impossible to squander.

They shot 13 of 15 in building a 41-25 lead after one, then hit their first six shots in front of a stunned crowd in Miami while going ahead by as much as 25.

Leonard scored only 18 points in the first two games combined, looking frustrated while getting into foul trouble trying to defend James in Game 2. But he had his outside shot working early, and the effect on the Spurs' offense was obvious.

The NBA Finals were back along the shores of Biscayne Bay for the fourth straight year, as much a part of the late-spring scene in Miami as beaches and boats.

The last three NBA seasons ended right in this building, the last two followed by championship parades.

But this time the local fans were forced to watch a clinic by the Spurs, who closed the first half with a 9-2 burst after Miami tried to get back into it by closing to a 14-point deficit.

Spurs 111, Heat 92

SAN ANTONIO (111): Leonard 10-13 6-7 29, Duncan 4-7 6-8 14, Diaw 3-6 2-4 9, Parker 4-10 6-6 15, Green 7-8 0-1 15, Bonner 0-0 2-2 2, Ginobili 4-8 2-2 11, Mills 2-5 0-0 5, Splitter 2-3 2-2 6, Belinelli 1-3 0-0 3, Baynes 1-1 0-0 2, Ayres 0-0 0-0 0, Joseph 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-64 26-32 111.

MIAMI (92): L.James 9-14 2-3 22, Lewis 5-7 0-0 14, Bosh 4-4 0-0 9, Chalmers 0-5 2-2 2, Wade 8-12 6-8 22, Andersen 0-1 3-4 3, Allen 3-8 3-3 11, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Cole 3-9 1-2 8, Douglas 0-1 1-2 1, Battier 0-0 0-0 0, Haslem 0-1 0-0 0, Oden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-62 18-24 92.

San Antonio 41 30 15 25— 111

Miami 25 25 25 17— 92

3-Point GoalsSan Antonio 9-20 (Leonard 3-6, Belinelli 1-1, Diaw 1-2, Green 1-2, Ginobili 1-3, Mills 1-3, Parker 1-3), Miami 10-21 (Lewis 4-5, Allen 2-4, L.James 2-4, Bosh 1-1, Cole 1-2, Wade 0-1, Douglas 0-1, Chalmers 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsSan Antonio 37 (Duncan 6), Miami 31 (Andersen, L.James 5). AssistsSan Antonio 21 (Mills, Parker 4), Miami 17 (L.James 7). Total FoulsSan Antonio 25, Miami 26. A19,900 (19,600).

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