Wednesday , Jun , 13 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen & San Antonio Spurs Win An Ugly Game Three Over LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers

The San Antonio Spurs pulled out a blue-collar win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to take a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals … The game was there for the Cavs to win, but Ohio came up short … Why? … And should Mike Brown start trusting LeBron James more? … Get your recap, reaction, and analysis here…

What Happened: There was very little good, a lot of bad, and even more ugly in the ’ 75-72 win over the on Tuesday night.

With the win, San Antonio now leads the NBA Finals 3-0. The Spurs are a single victory from clinching their fourth championship in nine years.

Game three wasn’t a pretty win for the Spurs-far from it, in fact. paced San Antonio with a solid 17 points and five rebounds.

But the rest of The Big Three had an off-night. , who spent extended minutes on the bench due to foul trouble, only scored 14 points.

missed all his shot attempts and finished with a measly three points.

However, , the Spurs’ lockdown defender, picked up the slack, contributing 13 points and nine rebounds.

Cleveland’s chances of extending the series ended when and missed key shots in the final minute.

James, who finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, missed a three-pointer that would have tied the game.

Varejao received a pass from James. Instead of passing the ball back to James, he missed a tough jumper in the key with only a few seconds left.

and each tallied 13 points, while had 12 points to go with 18 rebounds.

Game three tied for the second-fewest points in NBA Finals history. Game four is scheduled for Thursday in Cleveland.

Reaction of San Antonio forward Tim Duncan on getting another win:
"It doesn’t change at all. We need to get one more, and that’s it, however it comes. We know they’re going to come out this next game, they don’t want to get swept."

Reaction of San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili
on the beauty of winning ugly:
"Oh, it’s great, beautiful. We won in a tough arena like this one and we are just one game shy of making it.”

Reaction of Cleveland guard LeBron James on the significance of game four:
"It’s definitely a big game for us. It’s either about changing the series around or doing the impossible.”

My Take: The Cleveland Cavaliers squandered a golden opportunity to win game three and provide the NBA Finals with some much-needed excitement.

Everything, and I do mean everything, was in their favor:

1) Tim Ducan spent long stretches of the first half on the bench because of foul trouble. In fact, The Big Fundamental looked like The Very Average Power Forward, scoring just 14 points.

2) Manu Ginobili flopped all over the court like a beached whale. This was expected. What wasn’t expected? Ginobili, a 17 point scorer throughout his career, tallied just three points.

3) As a team, the Spurs were off. For example, San Antonio sank just 9-of-16 attempts from the free throw line.

4) The game was in Cleveland. And Cavalier fans were loud, cheering on the home side and booing the Spurs.

5) Zydrunas Ilgauskas finally produced a big game for Cleveland. The Euro hibernated through the first two games of the NBA Finals, dropping a Bryant Reeves-like 11 points. In game three, ‘Z’ tallied a double-double and baited Duncan into taking some early fouls.

Add it all up and the Spurs were vulnerable on Tuesday night. So why couldn’t the Cavs get it done?

San Antonio threw down on the defensive end. They played immaculate half-court D, switching off picks, grabbing tough rebounds, and communicating with each other. This kept the Spurs in the game, proving great defense still wins championships-even if it’s ugly to watch.

Mike Brown, Cleveland’s sideline boss, has serious trust issues. For the second straight game, James got into early foul trouble. Instead of trusting James to play though the fouls, Coach Brown removed his stud from the game.

For Cleveland to have any chance at winning, James had to play all 48 minutes. Nothing less would do. And nothing less would get the job done.

For whatever reason, Coach Brown didn’t believe his best player could work through the fouls and stay on the court.

Brown was wrong-James finished with just three fouls. He sat out seven minutes and Cleveland lost by three points.

Here’s the million dollar question: What if James plays those seven minutes?

Cavalier fans will think about that question for a long, long time.

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