Spurs stun Heat in NBA Finals Game 3
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat kept saying it didn’t matter, that LeBron James affects the game in different ways and this sudden disappearance of his scoring wasn’t the ominous sign that it may have seemed to be.
They were wrong.
With James struggling yet again to impose his will and the San Antonio Spurs returning the Game 2 favor with a merciless finish of their own, the defending champion Heat lost Game 3 113-77 at AT&T Center on Tuesday night and now trail 2-1 in the NBA Finals. They did it with three-pointers, setting an NBA Finals record with 16 in the game. And they did it with an extended run, finishing the game on a 69-33 tear after a tie at 44.
As such, the odds of the Spurs winning the fifth title they so desire turned in their favor yet again: In Finals in which the first two games are split, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win it all 11 out of 12 times. Game 4 is in San Antonio on Thursday.
James, who had two points at the half when the Spurs led 50-44, missed 11 of his first 13 shots and finished with less than 20 points for the third consecutive game for the first time since the Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 that haunted him so. The Spurs are the ones haunting him now — again.
Yet while the Spurs core remains, this is a different team than the one that robbed him of a title in 2007 in his only Finals appearance with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This wasn’t Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, or Manu Ginobili at center stage but role players Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green.
Neal, who had scored in double-digits four times in 16 playoff games, finished with 24 points and hit six three-pointers. Leonard was spectacular in defending James and added 14 points. Green had 27 points and hit seven of nine three-pointers.
“All of my teammates and Pop, they do a great job of encouraging me to continue to shoot the ball,” Green said.
Just once all season … [For more on San Antonio Spurs stun Miami Heat in NBA Finals Game 3, click here.]