NBA Finals

Did you feel that?

That kidney shot, that dagger to the heart, that excruciating experience that was watching the Spurs fall to the Heat in this year’s NBA Finals?

When Tony Parker hit that wild turnaround over LeBron James to seal a Game 1 win, the shot clock seemingly stuck at 0.1 seconds for an eternity, it became the Spurs’ series to lose. After responding to the Game 2 loss with a 36-point shellacking of the Heat in Game 3, it seemed like they were well on their way to locking up their fifth NBA championship.

The teams exchanged victories in Games 4 and 5 before returning to Miami for Game 6. One more victory was all the Spurs needed. How sweet would it be for Commissioner David Stern to give Gregg Popovich that coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy in front of thousands of fickle, undeserving Heat fans?

It would be the perfect ending for Stern to hand the trophy over to the same Spurs he fined $250,000 last November for sitting its players in the only regular season meeting against Miami.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

The Spurs imploded in Game 6. Popovich proved even the best coaches make mistakes when he sat Tim Duncan on the last two defensive possessions before the Heat forced overtime with back-to-back three-pointers from James and Ray Allen. At the end of overtime, Manu Ginobili couldn’t finish at the rim. Danny Green was blocked by Chris Bosh at the buzzer.
It’s the kind of Game 6 loss that predetermines the outcome of Game 7.

But if there was any team that could bounce back from such a demoralizing loss, it was the Popovich-led Spurs. Yet, they never took control of the game. The Heat triumphed, as James and Co. celebrated their second straight title.

The team that was bought beat the team that was built.

This one is going to sting for a while.

In a bizarre reversal of Sunday’s Game 2, Game 3 of the NBA Finals featured a massive San Antonio blowout of the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, with help for the Spurs coming from some rather unexpected places.

The Spurs took down the Heat 113-77 Tuesday night, the third largest margin of victory in NBA Finals history. After a nearly thirty point loss in Miami only two nights before, the Spurs clearly adjusted – pulling players, running in transition and going with some unorthodox lineups by keeping deep bench players on the floor for most of the game.

Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 51 points off the bench on Tuesday. That’s 26 more than Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili combined.

Green’s final line included 27 points and four rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting from the three point line. Neal was right behind him with 24 points (a new playoff career high) and four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, including a long buzzer beater just before halftime. (Perhaps his shoes had something to do with it – he was wearing a pair from former Longhorn Kevin Durant’s line with Nike).

Kawahi Leonard went for 14 points and 12 rebounds boasting 2-of-3 from three and Duncan provided his usual push with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Former Longhorn Cory Joseph chipping in with four assists.

Parker started off strong with six points, two rebounds and eight assists, but ended up sitting for much of the second half after sustaining a hamstring injury. He will have an MRI Wednesday morning and is questionable for Game 4.

The Spurs set an NBA Finals record with 16 three-pointers, most of them coming from bench players.

Miami Heat suffered from porous defense, frustrating offense and a disturbingly quiet night from star forward LeBron James. James finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. By late in the third quarter, 10 other players in the game had more points than James, who shot just 7-of-21 from the floor.

Dwyane Wade struggled his way to 16 points and five assists while Chris Bosh went for 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. The bright spot for the Heat was Mike Miller who could not miss Tuesday evening and was largely responsible for keeping the score close for much of the game. Miller contributed 15 points, all coing from a perfect 5-of-5 night from the three-point range.

Two other major contributing factors: free throws and rebounds. The Spurs got to the free throw line 19 times and sank 11 of those shots. Miami got to the stripe 10 times and made seven. Miami was also decisively out-rebounded, pulling down just 36 to the Spurs’ 52.

The Spurs, who lead the series 2-1, will face Miami in Game 4 at 8 p.m. Thursday in San Antonio.