Sunday , Jun , 10 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, & San Antonio Spurs Hold Off LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers For Game Two Win

What Happened: Gregg Popovich, the coach of the , expects his team to be perfect. For three quarters of Sunday’s game against the , they were.

The Spurs led 89-62 heading into the fourth quarter. Then huddled with his Cavalier teammates.

Something clicked.

Cleveland went on a fourth quarter tear, cutting the lead to eight before converted a rare four-point play to preserve the win for San Antonio.

The Spurs held on for a 103-92 victory over the Cavaliers, taking game two of the NBA Finals on Sunday at the AT&T Center.

With the win, San Antonio leads the best of seven series 2-0.

Once again, was brilliant. The lightning-quick guard hit several tough lay-ups early on.
But he made his biggest shots down the stretch, sinking two tough jumpers in the fourth quarter, which prevented Cleveland from completing an improbable comeback.

Parker finished with 30 points. had a near triple-double, registering 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while Ginobili scored 25 points and added six rebounds.

James led the Cavaliers with 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. However, his stat-line is deceiving. James struggled in the first-half, spending most of the first quarter on the bench with foul trouble.

The Spurs built a considerable lead with James out of the game. In the second-half, he made his shots, but committed too many turnovers. On the whole, James’ play was up-and-down.

added 13 points to go with six rebounds. scored 10 points. had nine points.

For the second straight game, struggled because of a foot injury. Hughes failed to score, while his replacement, rookie , continued his fine play, contributing 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

Cleveland will host game three of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.

Reaction of San Antonio guard Tony Parker on Cleveland’s late-run:
"We knew it was coming. They are an NBA team and have LeBron James. They played very good in the fourth quarter. They made a big run, but in the end we made a couple of stops and got the win.”

Reaction of Cleveland guard LeBron James on San Antonio leading the series 2-0:
"We’re definitely still confident. We’ve been down 2-0 before and we have to find a way to get back the intensity we had in the fourth quarter. When I make adjustments, my team automatically makes adjustments. We have to play hard for 48 minutes."

Reaction of Cleveland coach Mike Brown on Ginobili’s impressive four-point play:
"That was a heck of a play and a heck of a shot by Manu. He tricked our young fella and leaned right into him.”

My Take: Class was in session for most of game two. The Spurs could do no wrong, schooling the Cavaliers in all facets of the game.

Cleveland deserves credit for their fourth quarter. They could have quit. Yet, they hit some shots and made a game of it.

Still, San Antonio’s second quarter is the story of game two. The dynasty-in-waiting outscored Cleveland 30-16 even though their starters rested on the bench.

The Spurs’ second unit put on a clinic. Textbooks could be written.

Of course, Ginobili was brilliant. But hit a big three-pointer and tossed a perfect no-look pass to , who then threw down a powerful dunk. Robert Horry was everywhere, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.

How can Cleveland win game three?

1) James plays 48 minutes. Forget foul trouble. And forget fatigue. James goes the distance. However, he should guard Bruce Bowen instead of wasting energy trying to stop Parker.

2) Increase Gibson’s minutes. In fact, give all the shooters, Gibson, Damon Jones, Pavlovic, and Donyell Marshall, more playing time.

Gibson is the key. The rookie had another impressive night, notching 15 points in just 32 minutes. Most importantly, his outside range creates space for James to operate.

3) Go inside to Ilgauskas. ‘Big Z’ was better in game two, but the Cavs still need much more from their all-star center. Ilgauskas must make Duncan work on defense.

4) Consider using a zone defense to slow Parker. James shrugged off a question about employing a zone in the post-game press conference. But Coach Brown doesn’t seem interested in giving Eric Snow a legitimate shot at guarding Parker. So what other choice is there?

5) Give the home fans something to cheer about. Cleveland must maximize their fan support by getting off to a fast start in game three.

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