Journeymen Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 51 points and the San Antonio Spurs held LeBron James in check again to beat the defending champion Miami Heat 113-77 and take a two-games-to-one lead in the National Basketball Association Finals.
The host Spurs made an NBA Finals-record 16 3-pointers last night while holding four-time Most Valuable Player James to 15 points, his lowest postseason scoring total since 2011.
“We got what we deserved,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said in a news conference. “We did not bring anywhere near our best game tonight. I did not recognize the team that was out there.”
Game 4 in the best-of-seven championship series is set for tomorrow night in San Antonio.
Green, 25, who was cut twice by the Spurs and spent part of the 2011 season playing in Slovenia, went 7-of-9 on 3-pointers to lead the Spurs with 27 points. Green, from North Babylon on New York’s Long Island, was a former teammate of James in Cleveland.
Neal, 28, who played in Turkey, Spain and Italy before joining the Spurs in 2010, hit six more 3-pointers off the bench to add 24 points.
“They were huge for us, those guys shot incredibly and gave us some breathing room when we needed it,” Spurs center Tim Duncan said in a news conference. “It’s an unbelievable story to see where they came from.”
The Spurs outrebounded the Heat 52-36 and held James below 20 points for the third straight game.
James missed 11 of his first 13 shots and had only four points until late in the third quarter. After scoring at least 19 in every playoff game the past two seasons, James has had 18, 17 and 15 points in the three games against the Spurs.
“We know what kind of player LeBron is and he’s not at his best now,” Green told reporters. “With LeBron, it’s not just us stopping him. He’s kind of stopping himself out there.”
It was the 100th postseason victory for the Spurs’ trio of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, second in NBA history to the 110 wins for the Lakers’ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.
None of the Spurs’ three veterans had a big game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Duncan had 12 points, Ginobili had seven and Parker had six points while missing most of the second half with what appeared to be a leg injury.
The Spurs led 50-44 at halftime and expanded their lead to 59-46 early in the third period and to 73-52 with just under three minutes left in the quarter.
San Antonio led 78-63 entering the fourth quarter and scored the first 13 points of the period to take a 28-point lead.
Mike Miller went 5-for-5 on 3-pointers to score 15 points for Miami, which never led in the game. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 16 points.
Spoelstra said Miami’s shortcomings were evident on both offense and defense.
“We’re kidding ourselves if we’re going to point to the 77 points,” he told reporters. “They played with more force and focus. They outclassed us from the opening tip.”
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