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Tony Parker

Tony Parker pushed his tender right hamstring as much as he possibly could in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and it will be hard to find a player in this series that needs the two days of rest before Game 5 more.

Parker had 15 points and nine assists in San Antonio’s 109-93 loss to the Miami Heat that evened the series at 2-2. But he was held scoreless in the second half as the Heat pulled away. Now he gets two full days for rest and treatment before the two teams play again on Sunday.

”It’s going to be huge for me,” Parker said after the game. ”Obviously, definitely got fatigued in the second half. Those two days I’m going to make sure I do a lot of treatment and get to 100 percent. Tonight I was not 100 percent. By Sunday, that’s my goal, to be good to go.”

Parker said after the game that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was hesitant to let him play after his star point guard tested it out in the morning shootaround and deemed himself ready to play. But Parker convinced his coach to let him start, and his strong play early sparked the Spurs before LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took over.

Reported by Jon Krawcyznski of the Associated Press

lebron james

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison had a message as he walked to the winning locker room.

”The death of the Big Three was overrated,” he said.

Sure was. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his three prized players, are just fine.

So are the Heat’s championship hopes.

Riding big performances from their three All-Stars, the Heat tied the NBA Finals with a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night in Game 4…

James had 33 points and 11 rebounds after failing to break 20 points in any of the first three games of the series, and Wade scored 32 points, 11 more than his previous high this postseason.

Bosh matched his playoff high with 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, he and Wade supplying the baskets that finally put the Spurs away for good midway through the fourth quarter.

Three players, 85 points. Just the way the Heat envisioned it when they signed James and Bosh to play with Wade in 2010.

”When Bosh, Wade and James score the way they did tonight and shoot it the way they did tonight, a team is going to have a difficult time if you help them like we did,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

”When those guys are playing like that, you better be playing a perfect game.”

The Spurs weren’t, committing 19 turnovers that led to 23 points…

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan scored 20 points for the Spurs, who have one more game here on Sunday. They fell to 10-3 at home all-time in the finals, failing to back up their 113-77 victory in Game 3 that was the third-most lopsided score in the history of the championship series…

Wade shot 14 of 25, adding six steals, six rebounds and four assists in a performance that James compared to when Wade was MVP of the 2006 finals.

Tony Parker had 15 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who made a finals-record 16 3-pointers on Tuesday but got up only 16 attempts in this one. Gary Neal scored 13 points and Danny Green had 10, solid nights but nothing like when they combined for 13 3-pointers two nights earlier.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Tony Parker

Spurs guard Tony Parker said he will play in Game 4 of the NBA Finals after his availability was in doubt because of a mild right hamstring strain.

Parker wouldn’t address his injury at practice Thursday other than answering ”I’ll be ready to go” to multiple questions about his health. The All-Star was hurt early in the second half of Game 3, which the Spurs won to take a 2-1 lead over the Miami Heat in the best-of-seven series.

The question now is whether Parker will show any signs of being sore or ailing against the Heat. An MRI taken Wednesday revealed a Grade 1 strain, the mildest level, but Parker had been uncertain about his status until Thursday morning.

Despite Parker getting hurt Tuesday night, the Spurs still walloped Miami 113-77.

Reported by Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press

Danny Green and Gary Neal aren’t NBA royalty like LeBron James.

Either undrafted or unwanted, they were once more likely to be found playing in summer league or some other country than against the mighty Miami Heat.

On Tuesday, they led the San Antonio Spurs to one of the best-shooting, biggest blowouts in NBA Finals history.

Green made seven of the Spurs’ finals-record 16 3-pointers, Tim Duncan had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and the Spurs clobbered the Heat 113-77 on Tuesday night to take 2-1 lead in the series.

Green scored 27 points and Gary Neal made six 3-pointers while scoring 24 as San Antonio went 16 of 32 from behind the arc, rolling to the third-biggest victory in finals history.

”Those guys shot incredibly,” Duncan said. ”Gave us the breathing room when we needed it.”

Neal could be even more important going forward, after starting point guard Tony Parker revealed fresh concerns about his sore hamstring. He plans to get an MRI on Wednesday…

James finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but missed 11 of his first 13 shots against the excellent defense of Kawhi Leonard, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds…

Duncan shot 3 of 13 for nine points, his worst performance ever in his 25 NBA Finals games, in the Heat’s 103-84 victory Sunday. Parker wasn’t much better, shooting 5 of 14 and committing five turnovers, and Manu Ginobili admitted afterward the veteran trio had to play well for the Spurs to win…

Mike Miller made all five 3-pointers and scored 15 points for the Heat, who broke open Sunday’s game and seized momentum in the series with a 33-5 run in the second half.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Tim Duncan

On a day of rest at the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan had work to do.

Not only was he admittedly awful in Game 2, he had never been so bad on this stage. He shot 3 for 13 from the field for nine points, posting finals career lows in scoring, field goal percentage and field goals made, according to STATS.

The three-time finals MVP made only 11 of 32 shots in Miami and knows he must be better if the San Antonio Spurs are going to win their fifth title in five finals appearances.

”Obviously, they’re contested shots, but they’re the shots I feel I can make,” Duncan said after the Heat’s 103-84 victory Sunday. ”So whether it be them or me or whatever it may be, I’m going to get back in the gym tomorrow and hopefully come out with a better stroke,” he said. ”But I’m getting the shots I want. I just have to knock them down.”

The teams took Monday off, with the series resuming Tuesday night. The Spurs also will host Game 4 on Thursday and Game 5 on Sunday.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers marched toward midcourt with a message.

”I felt like we had them on the ropes at the time. I told him, ‘Let’s go for the kill,”’ Chalmers said. ”He said, ‘I’m with you.”’

And once LeBron James joined in, the Miami Heat were back with a blowout in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Chalmers led the charge, James broke out to finish it with a flurry and the Heat used a 33-5 run to rout the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 on Sunday night and even the series at one game apiece.

James missed 10 of 13 shots through three quarters and the Heat trailed by a point late in the period before unleashing the lethal brand of basketball that led them to a franchise-record 66 wins this season.

Chalmers finished with 19 points, and James had 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks - the best on Tiago Splitter’s dunk attempt - while shooting only 7 of 17 from the field…

The Heat made 10 of 19 3-pointers and got 13 points from Ray Allen, and 12 points and 10 rebounds from the previously slumping Chris Bosh.

Danny Green made all six shots, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points for the Spurs. They host Game 3 on Tuesday night.

Tony Parker had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting for the Spurs, who were so precise in their 92-88 victory in Game 1 but threw the ball all over the white-surrounded court Sunday, committing 17 turnovers that led to 19 Miami points…

Tim Duncan shot 3 of 13 and finished with nine points and 11 rebounds…

The Spurs had only four turnovers in Game 1, tying an NBA Finals record low. But they surpassed that total in the first quarter, Parker committing two of their five after not coughing it up once in the opener, and the Spurs looked more like the sloppy Indiana Pacers from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals than the Spurs of Game 1.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Tony Parker

Despite the notion they’re old, the Spurs are actually overall the younger, less-experienced team in these finals. Miami has nine players in their 30s to the six on the Spurs, and their Big Three and Bonner are the only Spurs to have played in the NBA Finals.

That makes it easier for the Spurs to enjoy this trip more than when they were the team expected to be here every year.

”We definitely are having fun,” Tony Parker said. ”I think we appreciate every moment. We don’t take anything for granted, because it’s been a long time. It’s been six years. Felt like forever. After the Memphis series, there was a lot of emotion.”

Heat veteran Shane Battier wasn’t exactly sold on the notion of this Spurs transformation into a happy-go-lucky group.

”Don’t believe them, first of all,” he said. ”They are extreme competitors and they have a level of self-deprecation I think that is part of them, but don’t buy it for one second. Those guys are killers. They’re cut-throat and they will stomp on you if need be, and we’re the same way.

”We appreciate the opportunity to play in the finals. Difficult to get here. Hardest thing you’ll do in this game is to try and win a championship, so we appreciate the opportunity and we want to make the most of it,” he said.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

lebron james

Coming off a Game 1 loss when he saw his triple-double go to waste and was outdueled in the fourth quarter by Tony Parker, James knew he’d be hit from all sides about his approach for Sunday. The basic underlying tone was, why was he so content in the opener to set up misfiring teammates right until the final gun, rather than “go Cleveland’’ on the Spurs and try to win the game all by himself?

But he wasn’t about to tip his shooting hand.

“We’ll see what type of game plan I come out with,’’ he said. “It will be dumb of me to reveal it today.’’ …

He doesn’t need to reveal anything to anyone, but he does need to figure out how to solve a defense that is entirely different than the one that the Pacers presented in the Eastern Conference finals. Dwyane Wade talked about the need to “crack the code’’ in this next game to avoid a 2-0 series crater, and the one who that really falls on is James.

Reported by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News

Tony Parker

Tony Parker led a masterful fourth quarter performance from San Antonio as the Spurs beat the Heat 92-88 in the opening game of the NBA Finals in Miami on Thursday.

The Heat led 72-69 at the end of the third quarter but the defending NBA champions were out-scored 23-16 in the fourth and Parker sealed the victory with a superb late basket as the shot clock expired.

With the Spurs possessing a two-point advantage and on their likely final play of the game, Parker dribbled and wriggled and yet was still faced with the daunting presence of LeBron James in front of him.

With time and space running out, Parker slipped to his knees but managed to leap back up and find the basket with a jump shot from 16 feet (4.8 metres) that put San Antonio four points up with just 5.2 seconds remaining.

“We were very fortunate. It looked like he had lost it two or three times… but he stuck with it,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters.

“He got control of it again and then got it up there on the rim. It was a great effort by Tony,” he said.

Reported by Simon Evans of Reuters

Tim Duncan

The San Antonio Spurs still have that winning NBA Finals formula of good defense and a little luck on offense.

Tim Duncan overcame a slow start to finish with 20 points and 14 rebounds, Tony Parker banked in a desperation jumper on a broken play with 5.2 seconds left and the Spurs withstood LeBron James’ triple-double to beat the Miami Heat 92-88 on Thursday night in a thrilling Game 1.

Parker ended up with 21 points after referees reviewed his shot to make sure it just beat the shot clock, giving San Antonio a four-point edge in the game that was close the whole way.

”We got a little bit lucky in Game 1,” Parker said. ”Sometimes that’s what it takes to win games.”

Playing for the championship for the first time since sweeping James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 for their fourth title, the Spurs improved to 5-for-5 in Game 1s, hanging around for three quarters and then blowing by the defending champions midway through the fourth.

Manu Ginobili, the third member of San Antonio’s Big Three that has combined for 99 postseason victories together, finished with 13 points, and Danny Green had 12.

”It doesn’t matter how we’re categorized - old, veterans, whatever you call us, we’re in the mix,” the 37-year-old Duncan said.

San Antonio turned up its defense in the fourth quarter, limiting Miami to seven points in the first 8 1/2 minutes in returning to the finals just the way it left - with a victory over James.

James had 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in his second straight NBA Finals triple-double, but he shot only 7 of 16 against some good defense by Kawhi Leonard, and Miami’s offense stalled in the fourth quarter.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Heat vs Spurs NBA Finals Game 1

lebron james

Before reaching the top of basketball, LeBron James was run over by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs swept James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, so long ago that the winning game plan focused on exploiting James’ weaknesses. Those are nearly impossible to find now, and James essentially warned the Spurs that they shouldn’t bother looking.

The Spurs already know.

”He’ll be a lot more of a problem than he was in ‘07, that’s for sure,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday.

Tim Duncan told the beaten James minutes after that series that the league would someday belong to him, and he was right. The NBA’s MVP guided Miami to last year’s championship and the league’s best record this season.

Now the Spurs will try to take it back.

But James is now the best player in the game, is surrounded by more talent in Miami than he ever had in Cleveland, and still carries the memory of the beating the Spurs laid on him six years ago.

”I have something in me that they took in ‘07. Beat us on our home floor, celebrated on our home floor. I won’t forget that. You shouldn’t as a competitor. You should never forget that,” James said.

He joined the Heat in 2010, experienced more finals failure a year later, then was finals MVP last year when Miami beat Oklahoma City in five games. Another title now would put him halfway to the four that Duncan and Popovich have won together.

”That’s what I’m here for,” James said. ”I’m here to win championships, and you’re not always going to be on the successful side. I’ve seen it twice, not being on the successful side.”

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Kawhi Leonard

Chances are, the Spurs will use Kawhi Leonard often on defense against four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.

That’s just fine with Leonard.

”I would rather guard the best guy on the floor,” Leonard said. ”I want to get better myself. Guarding him is going to make me a better player. I accept the challenge to go out there and play.”

Leonard said he won’t take much from how Indiana defended James in the Eastern Conference finals, since the teams have a different overall defensive game plan.

And he also thinks being on the NBA’s biggest stage shouldn’t be a reason to change how anyone plays.

”It’s another game,” Leonard said. ”I don’t think it’s going to be any different. Everybody wants to compete to win a championship. People are competing at their highest level.”

San Antonio Spurs excellence continues

The 1950s-60s Boston Celtics dynasty, to which every subsequent NBA championship run gets compared, lasted 13 seasons. The Magic Johnson Lakers faded after 12 seasons. The running of the Jordan Bulls? Eight seasons.

San Antonio’s looking to slap NBA title bookends on 15 seasons of excellence.

That’s an NBA title in a lockout-shortened season followed by 14 consecutive 50-win seasons, among which the Spurs sprinkled three more NBA championships and now have a shot at a fifth.

Expansion and free agency didn’t pre-empt such consistency in professional team sports. But the grudging fade of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings leaves San Antonio as the most consistent success show among the major professional sports. That can be said now that the Spurs returned to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007.

“It feels like forever since we’ve been to this point,” San Antonio center Tim Duncan said after San Antonio swept Memphis in the Western Conference Final. “We’ve been on the verge of getting here. In the last couple of years, we still feel we’re in contention, but we can’t get over that hump to get back in the Finals. It’s just an amazing feeling, honestly.”

Asked if he was worried the Spurs might never get back there, Duncan said, “Nothing’s promised. I don’t know if there was doubt. I would hope we did, but nothing’s promised.”

Reported by David J. Neal of the Miami Herald

Manu Ginobili

Ginobili and the Spurs are gearing up for the franchise’s fifth appearance in the NBA Finals, where they will meet the defending champion Heat starting Thursday in Miami.

Not since Hall of Famer George Gervin finger-rolled his way into the hearts of San Antonio fans during an 11-year career have the Spurs had a player as popular as Ginobili. Duncan, Tony Parker, David Robinson and Sean Elliott all hold a special place in fans’ hearts, but Ginobili has become one of the city’s own.

”I don’t know how we connected at first,” the Argentine said. ”I just know that they kind of adopted me from the first minute I got here. Maybe it’s my Latin roots, Spanish speaking, or maybe it’s my type of game. I guess it was a little bit of everything.

”But it really helped me, especially early in my career. Now I’m a developed player, I’ve been everywhere and now I’m more used to it. But at the beginning, when I had so many doubts, I was the new guy in the NBA, the uncertainties and all that, having 18,000 people supporting me and cheering you up was a big help.”

The 6-foot-6 guard has given Spurs fans plenty to cheer about - and groan over.

He averaged 20.8 points and 5.8 rebounds during the postseason in guiding San Antonio to the 2005 NBA championship…

”It’s great to have had this opportunity to keep playing,” Ginobili said. ”I feel better. If we had lost in the first round, I wasn’t even back. After three weeks sitting, then four games, five games and the season’s over, you go back home with a really bad feeling about the season. But since the way things have turned out, to tell you the truth, I even forgot what happened during the season. I’m feeling good now. We’re in the Finals, so who cares? No one is going to remember I missed 20 games during the regular season.”

Reported by Raul Dominguez of the Associated Press

Heat to play Spurs for NBA title

miami heat

No more sitting out stars, and for the San Antonio Spurs, no more sitting around.

Finally, the NBA Finals matchup is set, and the Miami Heat will either win a second straight championship or the Spurs will go a perfect 5 for 5 in the title round while denying LeBron James a ring for the second time.

The Heat earned their third consecutive Eastern Conference title on Monday night, beating the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of their series. So it’s Heat vs. Spurs for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a series that will begin Thursday in Miami, on the same floor where the Heat and James finished off Oklahoma City to win last season’s title.

Miami is looking for its third championship, San Antonio its fifth. And for James, it’s a chance to erase a memory that has stung him for six years.

His first trip to the finals came when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, and it was ugly - the Spurs winning in a four-game sweep for what was their fourth title. San Antonio has not won the West since, so maybe it’s fitting that its return comes against James, albeit with the now four-time MVP in a different uniform.

”Obviously, I needed more,” James said. ”Our team, we were really good, but we weren’t great. And that was a great team. We lost to a better team. So I understand that we needed more. We continued to get better over the years, but we never got to that level.”

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

2013 NBA Finals schedule

2013 NBA Finals Schedule:

Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals schedule

Game 1 - Thu June 6 San Antonio at Miami 9:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 2 - Sun June 9 San Antonio at Miami 8:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 3 - Tue June 11 Miami at San Antonio 9:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 4 – Thu June 13 Miami at San Antonio 9:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 5 * Sun June 16 Miami at San Antonio 8:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 6 * Tue June 18 San Antonio at Miami 9:00PM ET ABC/R
Game 7 * Thu June 20 San Antonio at Miami 9:00PM ET ABC/R

*If necessary

R - ESPN Radio

The San Antonio Spurs can only watch, wait and practice until their NBA Finals opponent is decided and they can return to action after a nine-day break.

The Western Conference champions will play the winner of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, led 3-2 by the Miami Heat over the Indiana Pacers, when the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series begins June 6.

“Too much rest? Sure there’s concern,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after practice on Thursday. “What are you going to do? You do your best.”

The long hiatus is a byproduct of San Antonio’s efficiency in dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in a four-game sweep of the West final that concluded on Monday.

Tim Duncan, a stalwart of all four Spurs NBA titles during his 16 seasons in San Antonio, said he and his teammates are naturally keeping an eye on the Miami-Indiana series.

“Just trying to pick up a little on either squad,” Duncan told reporters. “Just trying to find anybody’s rhythm I can, see how they play, see what they do and just get a rhythm.”

Reported by Larry Fine of Reuters

Atlanta Hawks find their new head coach

The Atlanta Hawks are taking a piece of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff, and putting him atop their organization.

The Hawks named Mike Budenholzer the team’s new head coach today, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry announced. Budenholzer becomes the 12th full-time head coach in Hawks history.

Budenholzer, 43, spent the past 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, including the final 17 seasons as an assistant coach. For the last six seasons, he has served as the team’s no. 1 assistant to current San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich, the longest-tenured head coach in major professional sports and third-winningest coach (by percentage - .681) in NBA history behind only Phil Jackson and Billy Cunningham.

More info about the new Hawks coach is here.

Tim Duncan

It may seem as if the San Antonio Spurs are playing for an NBA title every year. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker know only too well how very long it’s been since their last chance.

Now they’re back in the Finals with their first chance at a championship since 2007, a really long time for a Spurs team that knows a thing or two - or three - about hoisting trophies.

”Honestly, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been to this point,” Duncan said Monday night after the Spurs advanced with a 93-86 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. ”We’ve been on the verge of kind of getting here. We still feel like we were in contention, but we can’t get over that hump. To get over that hump and get back in the Finals, it’s an amazing feeling, honestly.”

Parker scored 37 points to lead the Spurs, who finished off their second sweep this postseason for their fifth Western Conference title. The Spurs were just two wins away from a trip to the Finals a year ago before blowing that lead in six games to Oklahoma City.

Parker said he has learned just how tough it is to get there after winning his first NBA title at the age of 21.

”In 2007, we won our third one in five years and you think it’s going to keep coming,” Parker said. ”And I’m 25, and six years goes by and every year it gets tougher and tougher. Every team wants to beat you, and that’s why it makes it even more special to go back after all those years playing at a high level with the same coach, with the same big three but changing a couple pieces.”

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs reach NBA Finals

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007.

Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep Monday night of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-86 win on Monday night in the Western Conference final.

The Spurs now have won six straight in these playoffs, handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever swept by the very same franchise that needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.

Parker had his best game this postseason as he hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free throw line earning the Spurs and Tim Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.

”He’s been amazing,” Duncan said of Parker. ”Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game.”

Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 11…

The Spurs shot 51.3 percent (39 of 76) from the floor and outscored Memphis 52-32 in the paint, even though the Grizzlies had a 41-34 edge on the boards. Memphis led only briefly and the last at 6-4 as the Spurs took control early.

Memphis stayed close only by getting to the free throw line, making more shots there (17 of 24) than San Antonio took (12 of 13). The Grizzlies also got a career-high 22 points from reserve Quincy Pondexter, 18 of those in the second half. Pondexter was the only player from Memphis to shoot over .500. Zach Randolph finished with 13, continuing his struggles at the line where he was 5 of 8, and Marc Gasol had 14.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

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