Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Spurs rout Heat, take 3-1 NBA Finals lead

MIAMI — Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and the Spurs dominated the Heat again in a 107-86 victory Thursday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Tony Parker added 19 points for the Spurs, who can win their fifth championship with a victory at home in Game 5 on Sunday.

LeBron James had 28 points and eight rebounds for the Heat, but Dwyane Wade was just 3-for-13 from the field (and 4-of-8 from the free-throw line) for 10 points as the Heat was routed at home for the second straight game.

The Heat would have to become the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win their third straight championship.

Only eight teams have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in any series in the history of the NBA.

And the last time it happened was 2006.

LeBron James scored 28 for Miami.

Trying to take a 3-1 lead back home, the Spurs shot 56 percent and led by as much as 22 points against the Heat, who looked powerless to slow San Antonio's ball movement.

Not quite as sharp as when they shot a Finals-record 75.8 percent in first half Tuesday night.

The Spurs were still plenty good enough to open another huge lead before a Miami crowd that was booing the home team in the final minutes of the second quarter.

The Spurs knew their defense had to be better, realizing their once-in-a-lifetime, 19-for-21 start in Tuesday's 111-92 rout covered the fact that they allowed Miami to make more than 50 percent in the game.

The defense was definitely improved during the first half, holding Miami to 12-of-34 shooting (35 percent).

At the end of their fourth straight season that went the distance, the Heat looked as if they might be running out of gas.

The Spurs missed their first three shots after needing 22 attempts to miss three times Tuesday.

They quickly got untracked from there, running off a 13-2 spurt to open a nine-point lead. That was the margin when they went to the second quarter ahead 26-17.

San Antonio scored the first five of the second, capped by Danny Green's 3-pointer, to make it 31-17. And the Spurs blew it open later in the quarter with seven straight points capped by Leonard's soaring follow dunk that made it 55-33.

Around the league: The Cavaliers will interview David Blatt, formerly the coach of Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv, for its coaching vacancy, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Associated Press reported. Blatt said Thursday that he's leaving the European champion to pursue a job in the NBA. He didn't disclose details. The Cavaliers also have reached out to Mark Jackson, fired by Golden State late month, espn.com reported. … Carmelo Anthony's contract gives him until June 23 to declare he will become an unrestricted free agent, espn.com reported. Otherwise, he will become an unrestricted free agent after 2014-15.

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