Spurs edge Cavs, on brink of sweep
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James missed a potential game-tying
three-pointer in the final seconds, as the Spurs edged Cleveland, 75-72, to
move to the verge of a sweep in the NBA Finals and solidifying their
franchise as a dynasty.
Tony Parker had 17 points to lead the Spurs. Tim Duncan, who was held
scoreless in the middle two quarters, had 14 points and nine boards for San
Antonio, which is ahead 3-0 in the series, and a victory away from winning the
title for a fourth time in nine years. The Spurs can complete the sweep
Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
James hit a layup with 6.3 seconds left to get the Cavaliers within 73-72, but
Manu Ginobili drained two free throws with 5.5 seconds left.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, Bruce Bowen, San Antonio’s defensive stopper
who had 13 points, got his hands on James, trying for the foul before a
three-point try in the closing seconds. No foul was called and James’ shot
caromed off the rim. Zydrunas Ilgauskas tried to keep the ball alive for the
Cavs, but time ran out, and Cleveland, in its maiden voyage to the Finals, is
in danger of going down in four straight.
James then complained to the officials that a foul should have been called
while he was in the act of shooting, but the Spurs walked off the court a win
shy of another championship.
“I’m just thrilled by Bruce Bowen,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s
guarding somebody that’s going to be a Hall of Fame player when it’s all said
and done obviously. What a yeoman effort on his part. I just thought he was
Even though the Spurs had a foul to give, James called the contact incidental
with Bowen after the game.
“It didn’t affect my shot. I had a good look at it, I missed it,” James said.
James had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Drew Gooden contributed
13 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out, and Sasha Pavlovic also had 13
points. Ilgauskas ended with 12 points and 18 boards.
The 147 points nearly set a record for the lowest combined score in a Finals
game in NBA history. That mark is held in a 74-71 final with the Fort Wayne
Pistons beating the Syracuse Nationals in 1955.
Three-point shooting was a big difference, as the Spurs made 10-of-19 from
beyond the arc, while the Cavs were 3-for-19. Bowen made 4-of-5 from long
Michael Finley’s three-pointer boosted the Spurs to a 67-57 lead with 6:38
left in the game, but the Cavaliers scored the next eight points, getting
within two on a pair of James foul shots with 1:55 left.
Duncan came back with two free throws and Parker seemed to hit the dagger, a
three from the right wing, for a 72-67 margin with a minute left. Pavlovic
then banged in a three from the left corner.
Anderson Varejao blocked Parker’s shot along the left baseline with 25 seconds
to go, but the Cavs didn’t call a timeout. Instead, James fed the ball in the
lane to Varejao, who spun past Duncan, but missed badly on a scoop shot.
Manu Ginobili hit a foul shot with 10.4 seconds left to set up the dramatic
Ginobili had just three points, but Daniel Gibson, who had stepped up in a few
playoff games for the Cavaliers, went a dismal 1-of-10 from the field for two
The Cavs, who hosted an NBA Finals game for the first time in their 37-year
history, elected to go with Gibson as their starting point guard. Larry Hughes
was inactive for the contest due to a left foot injury.
It was tight throughout the opening quarter. James’ layup moved the Cavs ahead
5-4, and the home team didn’t trail the rest of the period, holding an 18-16
edge after 12 minutes.
Parker hit a shot in the lane at the buzzer to cap a big run at the end of the
second quarter, giving the Spurs a 40-38 lead at the half. Robert Horry, in a
quest for his seventh championship ring, hit a three-pointer with 31.2 seconds
left in the half. Then, after Gibson missed a layup, Parker drove into the
lane for his shot to culminate 10 straight San Antonio points to end the half.
The star players for both teams accumulated three fouls in the first half.
Duncan had eight points for the Spurs, while James tallied a team-best nine
for the Cavs, but both went to the bench midway through the second after
being charged a third foul.
Although the Cavs trailed by just two, compared to the 25 they were behind at
the break on Sunday, Cleveland could never go back in front. They were behind
55-50 going into the fourth quarter.
The Spurs shot 36.7 percent from the field, while the Spurs ended at 41.2
percent…Bowen also had nine boards.