Spurs clamp down on James, Cavs to take Game 1
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) – Tim Duncan and Tony Parker dictated the
offense and San Antonio’s defense put the clamps on LeBron James, holding the
superstar Cavalier to 14 points, as the Spurs beat Cleveland, 85-76, in Game 1
of the NBA Finals.
James, who came into the game averaging 25.8 points in the postseason while
leading the Cavaliers to their first Finals appearance in franchise history,
went 4-of-16 from the field. He missed his first eight shots from the floor
and had six of his points in the final quarter, but the Cavs were behind by
double digits most of the fourth.
“I thought overall the team effort was great on defense,” Parker said.
“Everybody was focused on LeBron. Every time we got transition, everyone got
back, shadow, make sure we don’t give him easy ways to the basket, cause he’s
strong and gets a lot of easy baskets like that.”
Parker had 27 points and seven assists, while Duncan totaled 24 points, 13
rebounds and five blocked shots for the Spurs, who are going after their
fourth NBA championship in nine seasons.
Daniel Gibson had 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Cavaliers, who also got
14 points from Drew Gooden and 13 from Sasha Pavlovic. However, Cleveland
couldn’t deal with San Antonio’s tenacious defense, as the Spurs swarmed James
nearly every time he tried to drive to the basket.
Bruce Bowen, San Antonio’s defensive stopper, was mostly responsible for
holding James in check, as the Cavs star had six of his team’s 12 turnovers.
“He takes great pride in guarding the other team’s best player,” Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. “Team defense begins with individuals taking
responsibility. I think Bruce does that very well. The team followed through
and helped out pretty good. LeBron didn’t have a great night.”
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is Sunday night in San Antonio.
“It was definitely crowded,” James said of his trying to drive. “They did
a great job of shrinking the floor. If I went by one guy, another guy stepped
up. (It’s) something I’m going to have to make an adjustment for Game 2. I’ll
definitely be ready and definitely be able to counter some of the things they
The Spurs, who hadn’t played since last Wednesday when they finished off Utah
in the West finals, were ahead by five points at the half, but widened the
margin to 54-45 following a Manu Ginobili three with under five minutes left
in the third.
Gooden responded with a jumper, but the Spurs ended the period on a 10-2 spurt
to take a commanding 64-49 lead going into the fourth. Bowen keyed the run at
the end of the third with a three-pointer.
Threes by Robert Horry and Ginobili widened the cushion to 70-52 less than two
minutes into the final quarter, but the Cavaliers chipped away. James drained
a pair of threes and Pavlovic’s bucket inside of three minutes had Cleveland
within 78-69. It culminated a 13-4 run.
A Gibson three-pointer had Cleveland within 80-72 with 1:53 left, and the Cavs
could have gotten closer. Gibson came up with a steal, but James missed a
three-pointer. Horry then fed Duncan for a jam with 54.6 seconds to go,
effectively sealing the win.
Ginobili finished with 16 points, while Anderson Varejao scored 10 for the
Cleveland beat the Spurs in both meetings during the regular season, but
neither team reached the 90-point mark. That low-scoring trend has continued
in Thursday’s game.
While the Spurs boast plenty of championship experience, the Cavaliers have
just one player who’s been to the NBA Finals – Eric Snow with the Philadelphia
76ers in 2001.
On the other side is Horry, who has won six NBA titles. Horry drew a charge
from Donyell Marshall with 38.5 seconds left in the opening quarter. The solid
defense continued, as Ginobili drew an offensive foul on James with 3.7
seconds remaining, as LeBron ran over the Spurs guard.
“When we did get into the lane there were three bodies there,” Cavaliers coach
Mike Brown said. “When we did kick the ball, they did a great job at spreading
out, contesting our shooters.”
San Antonio led by as many as six in the opening quarter, as Duncan’s two free
throws moved the advantage to 16-10 at the midway point.
James had two points in the first quarter as the Cavs trailed, 20-15 going
into the second, but Cleveland started the next period with a 10-2 spurt.
Larry Hughes capped the flurry with a short jumper midway through the stanza.
Parker then engineered the Spurs into the lead, factoring in an ensuing 11-1
run. He made a driving layup and then missed a free throw, but got his own
rebound and made a short shot. Parker then fed Francisco Elson with a bounce
pass, which turned into a dunk and three-point play. Duncan jammed before
Parker hit a layup for a 33-26 advantage.
Gibson’s layup had the Cavs within 37-35, but Ginobili nailed a three-pointer
with 1.9 seconds left in the half.
James has 827 points in his career in the playoffs, passing Mark Price
(818) for the most in Cavaliers history…Price had his points over 47 games,
while James has the new record over 30 contests…Before this game, Cleveland
had beaten the Spurs three straight times…The Cavs are 0-13 all-time in Game
1s on the road.