SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Payback for the Miami Heat came in the form of a good ol’ butt-kicking by the San Antonio Spurs.
They do things bigger in Texas, and that includes bounce-back wins as the Spurs responded to being embarrassed by the Heat in game two with one of the biggest blowouts in NBA finals history in game three on Tuesday.
“You don’t expect it to go the way it did,” said Spurs superstar Tim Duncan. “We got our butts handed to us the last game. We came back here and just put together a great game all around.”
The Heat lost the home-court edge in game one in Miami losing 92-88, then hammered the Spurs 103-84 in game two. But Tim Duncan and his stellar supporting cast seized crucial game three by shocking the reigning NBA champions Miami 113-77 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The 36-point margin was the third-largest victory in NBA finals history. The Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz by 42 points in game three of the 1998 finals and in 2008 the Boston Celtics thumped the Los Angeles Lakers by 39 points in game six.
“They got into an incredible rhythm and we were playing behind from the start,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I didn’t recognize the team (Heat) that was out there.”
San Antonio will host the next two games of the best-of-seven series with game four set for Thursday night in San Antonio.
Game threes have proved pivotal in recent NBA finals history. The winner of the third game in NBA finals series that are split 1-1 has won the title 12 of the last 13 times.
San Antonio guard Danny Green continued his torrid shooting streak from beyond the arc Tuesday by making seven-of-nine from three-point range after going five-for-five in game two.
But not to be outdone, Gary Neal came off the bench to score a playoff career high 24 points, falling just five points shy of his overall career high of 29 points.
“Those guys stepping up on this stage in this game for us is huge,” Duncan said. “We talked about it before the series started. We are going to have to have guys step up and guys play well in certain games. Miami was running all over the place and those guys were getting some open looks.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told how he cut Green not once, but two times, and had to be convinced by an assistant coach to give him another chance this season.
“We actually cut him twice,” Popovich said. “He handled it well. We brought him back this year. He is a pretty confident young man right now.”
Green’s 27 points were also a post-season career high.
“Luckily I’ve been open. I hit some shots,” Green said.
But don’t count out the Heat, because they have responded after each defeat this season in spectacular fashion. Miami, who is seeking dynasty status, have not lost back-to-back games since early January.
“We have to take it on the chin and move on and try to get the next game,” said Heat forward Chris Bosh. AFP