MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The NBA Finals swayed back in the direction of the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night as they took down the Miami Heat 111-92 in Game 3. San Antonio put on an offensive display that was remarkable to watch while keeping Miami’s offense from getting into any kind of a rhythm.
The Spurs now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 coming up on Thursday night at the American Airlines Arena.
It was all Spurs in the first quarter as they started out making nine of their first ten shots. Little did we know that was only the beginning.
LeBron James did what he could to keep Miami in the game early on, scoring twelve straight points for the Heat to close the gap from thirteen down to seven. That would be as close as the Heat would get in the first half.
“They jumped on us and they were the aggressor,” said James following the game. “This is something, at this point of the season, that should not happen.”
San Antonio outscored Miami 15-4 over the final 3:20 of the first quarter, taking a 41-25 lead. The Spurs made thirteen of their fifteen shots in the opening twelve minutes including 4-4 from downtown and 11-13 from the foul line. Kawhi Leonard led the way with sixteen points in the first quarter en route to the best scoring game of his young career.
Leonard finished with a career-high 29 points while taking only thirteen shots, making ten of them.
“I just found a rhythm and my teammates found me the ball,” Leonard simply put it. “I made shots.”
The second quarter started out the same as the first as the Spurs continued to hit every shot. They opened up a 53-30 lead before three minutes had gone by, making their first five shots while the Heat turned the ball over four times.
The Spurs lead would eventually balloon to 25 points early in the second quarter. San Antonio was shooting a remarkable 90.5-percent at that point and the Heat had few answers.
LeBron James and Rashard Lewis were the only Miami players to score in double digits in the opening half. Lewis hit three shots from beyond the arc and as a team the Heat shot 55.9-percent from the field but when you give up 71 points in a half it’s hard to stay in striking distance.
“They came out at a different gear than what we were playing at,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “We have to play much harder, much more efficient to give us a chance to win.”
Miami ended up turning the ball over eleven times during the first half which led to thirteen points for the Spurs. When the first half finally came to an end San Antonio led the Heat 71-50.
“I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76 percent in a half ever again,” said Spurs coach Greg Popovich. If he’s right, they couldn’t have picked a better time to do it.
The third quarter started out well for Miami as Dwyane Wade led the Heat on an 8-2 run to begin chipping away on the Spurs massive lead. Wade scored 11 points in the quarter without a single turnover after committing five in the first half.
The biggest thing that Miami brought with them out of halftime was their defense.
The Heat began suffocating San Antonio, holding the Spurs to just 31.5-percent shooting in the third quarter. Miami outscored the Spurs 25-15 in the quarter, drawing to within eleven points heading into the final twelve minutes.
It appeared that Miami used up all of their energy coming back in the third quarter as the Heat never got closer than ten points in the fourth.
Miami was outscored 25-17 in the final quarter where they committed seven of their twenty turnovers.