Archive for the ‘ Games ’ Category

lebron james

Victory in Game 7 brought more than another crown for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. It validated the team and its leader, forever cementing their place among the NBA’s greats.

For the vanquished San Antonio Spurs, it simply compounded the misery of a championship that got away.

James led the Heat to their second straight title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense game that was tight until Miami pulled away in the final minute.

Capping their best season in franchise history - and perhaps the three-superstar system they used to build it - the Heat ran off with the second straight thriller in the NBA’s first championship series to go the distance since 2010.

Two nights after his Game 6 save when the Heat were almost eliminated, James continued his unparalleled run through the basketball world, with two titles and an Olympic gold medal in the last 12 months.

”I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” said James, who was MVP for the second straight finals. ”I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”

He made five 3-pointers, defended Tony Parker when he had to, and did everything else that could ever be expected from the best player in the game.

The Heat became the NBA’s first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2009-10, and the first team to beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

tim duncan

Duncan had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, but missed a shot and follow attempt right under the basket with about 50 seconds left and the Spurs trailing by two…

Wade had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who overcame a scoreless Chris Bosh by getting six 3-pointers and 18 points from Shane Battier…

Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Spurs, who had been 4 for 4 in the championship round. Ginobili had 18 points but Parker managed just 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting…

Game 6 could have shaken the Spurs, who were so close to holding the trophy that officials were preparing the championship presentation before Miami’s rally. The Spurs held a team dinner late that night, figuring the company was better than having to dwell on the defeat alone in their rooms.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

lebron james

LeBron James saved a championship reign, canceled a celebration.

The toughest part now might be topping this performance in Game 7.

”It’s by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” James said.

He wouldn’t let the Miami Heat lose it - or their NBA title.

If the San Antonio Spurs want that, they’ll have to fight just a little harder to get it. One last game, winner take all.

James powered Miami to a frantic fourth-quarter rally and overtime escape as the Heat beat the Spurs 103-100 on Tuesday night to extend the NBA Finals as far as they can go and keep Miami’s repeat chances alive.

Losing his headband but keeping his cool while playing the entire second half and overtime, James finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, making the go-ahead basket with 1:43 remaining in the extra period…

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan scored 30 points for the Spurs, his most in an NBA Finals game since Game 1 in 2003, but was shut out after the third quarter. He added 17 rebounds…

James was just 3 of 12 after three quarters, the Heat trailing by 10 and frustration apparent among the players and panic setting in among the fans.

Nothing to worry about. Not with James playing like this.

He finished 11 of 26, even making a steal after his basket had given Miami a 101-100 edge in the OT…

Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs. Tony Parker had 19 points and eight assists, but shot just 6 of 23 from the field…

Danny Green finished 1 of 5 from behind the arc after going 25 of 38 on 3-pointers (65.8 percent) in the first five games.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Manu Ginobili ran onto the floor as fans stood and screamed.

He went to the bench, and they chanted his name.

The sights and sounds of so many San Antonio spring nights were back Sunday - and the real party might be just a few days away.

Ginobili broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a finals game in four years…

Danny Green smashed the NBA Finals record for 3-pointers, hitting six more and scoring 24 points. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of starters in what could have been the last finals home game for a trio that’s meant so much to San Antonio…

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 25 points for the Heat, who host Game 6 on Tuesday night. They need a victory to force the first Game 7 in the finals since the Lakers beat the Celtics in 2010…

San Antonio shot 42 of 70, right at 60 percent. The last team to make 60 percent of its shots in the finals was Orlando, which hit 62.5 in Game 3 against the Lakers in 2009, according to STATS…

Ray Allen scored 21 points on the night for the Heat as he watched Green shatter his finals 3-point record. Green has 25 3s in the series. Allen made 22 3-pointers in six games in 2008 finals for Boston.

Chris Bosh scored 16 for Miami, Wade had 10 assists, and James had eight assists and six rebounds, but it was their defense that let the Heat down in this one.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s move to replace center Tiago Splitter with Ginobili paid off quickly. Ginobili had seven points and three assists in the first five minutes of the game and never cooled off. 

The Spurs weren’t pleased with the criticism Ginobili had been receiving.

“We’re not a team or organization that points fingers in that respect, so we’re confident in him,” San Antonio forward Tim Duncan said. “We know he has it in him. We’re hoping he can bring it for one more win.”

Reported by the Sports Xchange 

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

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

lebron james

Their season, their legacy, their reign atop the NBA was all at stake, and the Miami Heat responded in a manner befitting defending champions - with a blowout.

LeBron James scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, ailing Dwyane Wade matched his postseason high with 21 points, and the Heat ran away from the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference series on Monday night.

In the NBA Finals for the third straight year, the Heat will play the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 on Thursday in Miami.

”They’re just an amazing group of guys,” Heat managing general partner Micky Arison said after handing the East trophy to Chris Andersen. ”They’ve given us an incredible season so far, but it’s a long way from over.”

It could have ended on Monday, of course. The Heat had alternated wins and losses with the Pacers in the first six games of the series, and were coming off their worst offensive outing of the year in Game 6.

They responded with a rout, despite shooting just under 40 percent, well below their norm.

”By any means necessary … we took care of business,” James said…

Roy Hibbert scored 18 points for the Pacers, who got 14 from David West, 13 from George Hill and 10 from Lance Stephenson. All-Star Paul George was held to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting and fouled out early in the fourth quarter…

By halftime, it was 52-37, with James scoring 18 points, Bosh and Wade combining for 17 and Allen adding 10 more. And what had to be most troubling to the Pacers at halftime was their 15 turnovers, a number Vogel said earlier Monday would spell trouble if his team committed that many in the entire game…

Miami’s Norris Cole and Indiana’s Jeff Pendergraph were ejected with 2:17 left after exchanging some heated words.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Pacers beat Heat 91-77, force a Game 7

Roy Hibbert

Indiana staggered Miami with one more big punch Saturday night.

Now the Pacers have a fighting chance to pull off a stunning playoff upset.

Roy Hibbert did everything but pull out the boxing gloves in Game 6, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds, and continually contesting Miami’s shots to help Indiana stave off elimination with an emphatic 91-77 victory over the defending champs.

Paul George scored 28 points, had eight rebounds and five assists, and the Pacers held Miami to 36.1 percent shooting as they booked a trip back to Miami for Game 7 on Monday night.

”Myself and David (West), we throw ourselves in the fray, in the paint. We like to muck it up,” Hibbert said. ”Paul and myself, we wanted to make sure we got this for him as well. We didn’t want this to be our last game.” …

The Pacers had a 53-33 rebounding advantage, outscored Miami 44-22 in the paint and limited Miami’s shooters to 16 of 54, 29.6 percent, from inside the arc.

James led the Heat with 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Nobody else scored more than 10…

With Chris ”Birdman” Andersen suspended for the game because of a shoving incident with Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough on Thursday, the Heat couldn’t keep up with Indiana’s big rebounders inside. Even Lance Stephenson, who was not effective at Miami, finished with four points, 12 rebounds and four assists…

The Heat rallied early in the fourth, taking advantage of Indiana’s 1 for 6 start from the field. When Mike Miller hit back-to-back 3s, the Pacers’ lead was down to 70-64 and when James scored on a layup with 5:54 to play, the Heat were within 72-68.

But the run ended abruptly when George hit a 3, Miami’s Joel Anthony was called for a loose ball foul on the offensive end and David West grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a dunk to extend the lead to 77-68. Then came the technical flurry that finished it off.

West scored 11 points and had 14 rebounds despite playing with an upper respiratory infection that prompted Vogel to send him home early from the Pacers’ morning shootaround.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

lebron james

The game was very much in doubt. A sold-out arena was basically silent. The chance of getting back to the NBA Finals for a third straight year could have slipped away.

Cue LeBron James.

A third quarter for the ages by the four-time MVP turned the game, and perhaps the entire Eastern Conference finals, around. James scored 16 of his 30 points in the quarter, fueling what was a 20-point turnaround at one point, and the Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 90-79 in Game 5 on Thursday night.

The Heat lead the series 3-2, with a chance to finish it off in Indiana on Saturday night and move on to a finals matchup with the San Antonio Spurs…

Indiana was up 46-40 early in the third, surely sensing a chance to grab total control of the series. Over the next 11 minutes, the Heat outscored the Pacers 30-10, with James either scoring or accounting for 25 Miami points. He shot 7 for 10 in the third quarter; the Pacers shot 3 for 14. He had four rebounds in the quarter; the Pacers, as a team, grabbed six. He had four assists in the quarter; the Pacers had one…

James added eight rebounds and six assists, and Udonis Haslem made his last eight shots on the way to a 16-point night. Mario Chalmers scored 12 and Dwyane Wade added 10 for the Heat, who ousted the Pacers in six games in a second-round matchup last season and will look to do the same this time around, albeit one round deeper.

paul george

Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 22 points from Roy Hibbert and 17 from David West. The Pacers led by as many as seven at one point, but had no answer for the Heat in the third and now have to win back-to-back games - against a team that hasn’t lost consecutive games since early January…

For the second time in the series, Haslem - who has struggled with his shot for the better part of two years - finished 8 for 9…

Chris Andersen and Tyler Hansbrough needed to be separated early in the second, and both got technicals after Andersen appeared to hit Hansbrough twice, first with a shoulder and then with a two-hand shove. Andersen also picked up a flagrant-1 for his efforts, things cooled off a bit for the rest of the half, and Indiana went into the break up 44-40.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lance Stephenson added 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers charged back late to beat the Miami Heat 99-92 on Tuesday night and tie the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.

LeBron James led the Heat with 24 points before fouling out with 56 seconds to go. Mario Chalmers had 20 points on a night the defending NBA champs failed to take command of the series.

The Heat will host Game 5 on Thursday.

”We’re not going anywhere. We’re going back down to Miami to go out there and fight again,” Hibbert said.

The Pacers started fast and spent the rest of the night trying to fend off Miami’s continual comebacks.

But with Indiana leading 81-72 early in the fourth, Miami answered with a 14-2 run that gave the Heat an 86-83 lead.

Indiana tied the score on Paul George’s three-point play and erased the Miami lead by closing the game on a 16-6 run…

Bodies crashed to the ground all night. An angry George uncharacteristically smacked the floor after being called for a foul in the third quarter, leading to a technical foul on coach Frank Vogel. And the defense did a far better job against James and his high-scoring teammates. James finished 8 of 18 from the field…

Miami struggled to score early, Dwyane Wade was limping noticeably in the first half and forward Chris Bosh hurt his right knee in the first half and his right ankle in the second. The Big Three combined to go just 14 of 39 from the field.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

lebron james

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Game 3 Recap

Miami put LeBron James right in the middle of the action Sunday night, and this time, the Indiana Pacers didn’t have an answer for him or his Miami Heat teammates.

By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm’s length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

”I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” James said. ”The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”

It was a move reminiscent of when the Los Angeles Lakers played Magic Johnson in the post in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals more than two decades ago.

And it worked just as well.

James rebounded from the two late turnovers that cost Miami in Game 2 by scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Hours after Dwyane Wade learned he would only be tagged with a flagrant foul from Game 2 and not a suspension, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Chris Bosh added 15 points and three rebounds and all five Miami starters reached double figures.

The move allowed Miami to outscore Indiana 56-32 in the paint…

Miami committed a playoff franchise-low one turnover in the first half and finished with only five. James finished with none.

The Heat shot 54.5 percent against a team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive field goal percentage and also made 24 of 28 free throws. They matched the highest scoring output in a quarter during this season’s playoffs with 34, broke the franchise playoff record for points in a half (70) and fell one point short of tying the third-highest point total in a playoff game in franchise history…

David West

David West led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, not nearly enough to keep the Pacers perfect at home in the postseason…

Indiana opened the second half looking more like the team that had given Miami fits in Games 1 and 2. The Pacers hit back-to-back 3-pointers and got a three-point play from George Hill. When Lance Stephenson followed that with 1 of 2 free throws, the lead had been cut to 74-67.

It didn’t last.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

“We were disappointed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday of dropping Friday’s game, “and that’s where you have to embrace the competition.”

Still, few could have foreseen the number the Heat put on the scoreboard at halftime: 70.

A team that had scored 84 total points in the first halves of the series first two games simply detonated in the first half.

Like Dwyane Wade’s dunk on Roy Hibbert in the second quarter.

Like Udonis Haslem’s first six shots, each putting points on the board.

Like Chris Andersen’s first three shots, which gave him 15 consecutive playoff conversions from the field (a streak he would extend to 16 in the second half on his 4-of-4 night).

Heck even Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to end the second quarter and give the Heat a franchise record for points in any playoff half, his first points in three visits to Indiana this season, having missed his first 11 shots of the season at the Fieldhouse.

“What we talked about in the locker room,” Spoelstra said, “was tonight was a team win.”

Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Spurs vs Grizzlies Game 3 recap

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan scored the first five points of overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-93 Saturday night and move a win away from the NBA Finals.

The Spurs grabbed a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and now have won five straight this postseason. With the memory of blowing a 2-0 lead a year ago in the West finals to Oklahoma City, when they lost the next four, the Spurs shook off their sloppy play early and pushed the young Grizzlies to the edge of elimination in the first West final played in Memphis.

San Antonio, which didn’t lead this game until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, can wrap up the series Monday in Memphis and get back to the finals for the first time since their last title in 2007.

The Spurs hit eight of their 10 shots in overtime, with Duncan scoring seven of his 24 points. Tony Parker had five of his 26 in overtime, and even Tiago Splitter playing with four fouls, scored six in the extra five minutes to finish with 11.

mike conley

Mike Conley led Memphis with 20 points. Marc Gasol had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Zach Randolph added 14 and 15, and Quincy Pondexter had 15 points. But the Grizzlies, who thrived at the free throw line in knocking off No. 1 seed Oklahoma City in the semifinals, got there only 18 times and made only 10.

The Grizzlies last led 85-84 with 1:04 left in regulation on a 15-footer by Gasol. After that, they managed only to tie it up twice, the last on a layup by Randolph with 4:28 left in overtime. Duncan scored and knocked down the free throw with 4:10 remaining to put the Spurs ahead to stay.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Roy Hibbert

David West punched two passes from LeBron James away in the final minute, then punched the air.

He had plenty of reason to celebrate.

The Eastern Conference finals are tied, and home-court advantage now belongs to West and the Indiana Pacers.

Roy Hibbert scored a postseason career-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, West broke up two passes by James for huge turnovers, and the Pacers evened the East title series at a game apiece with a 97-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 on Friday night.

”We haven’t done anything yet,” Hibbert said. ”We haven’t closed the series out. We won one game. A lot of us feel we should be up 2-0.”

Paul George scored 22 points, George Hill added 18 and West finished with 13 for the Pacers, who handed the Heat just their fourth loss in their last 50 games, closed the game on a 13-5 run - and denied one of the game’s best playmakers in James twice in the final moments to finish it off…

With Indiana up 95-93, West intercepted a pass that James was throwing to Ray Allen with 43 seconds left. Indiana didn’t cash in that mistake, instead turning the ball over with a shot-clock violation.

So on the next Miami trip, West denied James - who led all scorers with 36 points - again…

The Heat got 17 points from Chris Bosh and 14 from Dwyane Wade. The Heat led 88-84 in the fourth quarter, only to let the lead, the game and the home-court edge slip away, and James had almost an expressionless look afterward…

Hibbert was creating one problem after another for Miami, so James took it upon himself to challenge him in the fourth. And with about 8 minutes left, he swatted a putback attempt away from the 7-foot-2 Indiana center, starting a play that ended with Chalmers scoring at the other end to give Miami an 85-84 lead…

The Pacers were called for four technicals (one a defensive 3-second) in a 4-minute span of the second quarter.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

According to ESPN.com, “James had two turnovers in the game’s final minute, which is extremely unusual for him.  This was the first postseason game in his career in which he had two turnovers in the game’s final 60 seconds.  In 125 previous playoff games, James had turned the ball over only seven times in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.  Roy Hibbert was on the court when James drove into the lane and turned the ball over with eight seconds remaining. James has one basket and four turnovers on drives to the basket in which Hibbert is on the floor in these two games. When Hibbert is off the court, James has four baskets (on five shots) and no turnovers on drives to the hoop.  James finished with three assists and five turnovers. The last time he had more turnovers than assists in a game was March 27 against the Chicago Bulls, a 101-97 loss that snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak.”

Tony Parker

Tony Parker had 15 points and a career playoff-high 18 assists, Tim Duncan scored San Antonio’s first six points of overtime and the Spurs bounced back after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-89 on Tuesday night.

The Spurs took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals with Game 3 on Saturday in Memphis.

Duncan opened the extra period with a layup, then made a tiebreaking putback on Parker’s missed jumper before making a runner that bounced high of the back iron and rattled in for a 91-87 lead with 1:08 to play.

The Grizzlies had a chance to tie after Jerryd Bayless hit a jumper and Parker missed one of two free throws with 14.6 seconds left, but Bayless’ 3-pointer from the left wing was off-target.

Bayless and Mike Conley each had 18 points to lead Memphis.

Duncan had 17 points and nine rebounds, missing most of the second half with foul trouble before coming up with the key baskets in overtime.

Memphis stormed back from a 13-point deficit with a 15-2 run over the final 8 minutes of regulation to tie it at 85 on Conley’s runner in the lane with 18.2 seconds to play.

Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

THE STAT: Despite the comeback, the game got away from the Grizzlies when they shot 24 percent in the second quarter and were outscored 31-18. Randolph went 0-for-7 and Tony Allen was 0-for-4. Memphis missed 14 straight shots to finish the half.

TURNING POINT: It was not enough to steal the win, but perhaps the fourth quarter has given the Grizzlies new life heading back home. Trailing 76-64, Memphis outscored San Antonio 21-9 even through the Grizzlies shot 38 percent from the floor. Memphis was down 0-2 in the first round after losing both games to open the Clippers series in L.A.

QUOTABLE II: “They ran at us. They got easy buckets, They got hot. But the second half I think we played more our basketball. We attacked, and of course everything works better when you make shots.”

Reported by Tim Price of NBA.com

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs opened the Western Conference finals resembling the past champions who’ve been there so many times before.

The Memphis Grizzlies looked like the first-timers still trying to adapt to their first conference finals appearance.

Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points and the Spurs struck first by beating Memphis 105-83 on Sunday.

San Antonio raced out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, then came up with a response when Memphis rallied to get within six in the second half. Both teams pulled their starters with over 5 minutes left and the Spurs leading by 21…

The NBA’s stingiest defense wasn’t up to its usual standards, allowing the Spurs to hit 53 percent of their shots and a franchise postseason-record 14 3-pointers while All-Star power forward Zach Randolph struggled. Randolph had just two points, getting his only basket with 9:26 left in the game…

The four regular-season meetings were all won by the team with more points in the paint, but perimeter shooting proved to be a bigger factor in the playoff opener. Memphis, which was second in the NBA by holding opponents to 33.8 shooting on 3-pointers, let San Antonio make 13 of its first 24 from behind the arc and finish 14 of 29.

Danny Green connected three times and scored 16, and Matt Bonner hit four of his five attempts for 12 points…

Pondexter led Memphis with 17 points, Marc Gasol scored 15 and Mike Conley had 14 points and eight assists.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Memphis’ abject lack of outside shooting (5 for 12 on 3s) killed them in two respects. One, they were outscored by 27 points from beyond the arc, easily the biggest different in the game. Two, it allowed the Spurs to basically ignore their perimeter players and collapse on the low-post tandem of Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Gasol was active early on, but he needed 16 shots to score 15 points while drawing just two free throws. Randolph barely got any touches at all, scoring his lone bucket on a tip-in while missing 7 of 8 shots. He had been averaging 19.7 points on 51.2-percent shooting in the postseason.

It’s fitting Gregg Popovich used a football metaphor to describe the Spurs’ strategy, which was basically a page taken straight from their first-round meeting with the Lakers — swarm the paint first, recover on shooters second.

“Zach and Marc are a heck of a combination, probably the best high-low combination in the league,” Popovich said. “Everything they do is really difficult to stick with, and you’ve got to have a mindset to do it on every down. You can’t be perfect at it. They’re just too good. But the effort was there for 48 minutes.”

– Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News

lance stephenson

Lance Stephenson scored nine of his playoff career-high 23 points during a late 11-2 run Saturday night, leading the Indiana Pacers past the New York Knicks, 106-99 and into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.

The New York native also had 10 rebounds and the Pacers were spurred by the return of point guard George Hill two days after he was diagnosed with a concussion.

Next up is a rematch with Miami, the team that eliminated Indiana last season. Game 1 will be Wednesday at Miami.

Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points and Iman Shumpert had 19 for New York.

Indiana is 6-0 at home in the playoffs, but this one sure wasn’t easy.

Indiana trailed 92-90 with 5:43 left in the game. The Pacers rallied after Roy Hibbert blocked Anthony’s dunk attempt and Stephenson scored on a layup that started the decisive spurt…

George had 23 points and West finished with 17. Hill was just 2 of 10 from the field in his return but scored 12 points, had five rebounds and four assists…

The Knicks were 18 of 18 from the free throw line.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Tim Duncan

Slow at the start of the series and strong at the end, the San Antonio Spurs wore out the Golden State Warriors the way they have so many other opponents.

Tim Duncan had 19 points and six rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and 10 rebounds and the Spurs held off a furious final rally to beat the Warriors 94-82 in Game 6 on Thursday night and advance to the Western Conference finals.

”They’ve got great character. They’re competitive. They know there’s not a million chances to do this sort of thing. They wanted it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his squad.

Tony Parker shook off a poor start to score 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Tiago Splitter added a career-playoff high 14 points for San Antonio, which had a 13-point lead in the third quarter dissolve to two in the final minutes.

Stephen Curry shot 10 of 25 from the floor to score 22 points on a nagging left ankle, and Jarrett Jack had 15 points as the injury-saddled Warriors finally tired. Rookie forward Harrison Barnes also suffered a head injury in the second quarter, returned in the third and was sidelined in the fourth with a headache.

The Spurs outshot Golden State 45 percent to 39 percent and outrebounded them 46 to 40.

Second-seeded San Antonio will open the conference finals at home against Memphis on Sunday. The fifth-seeded Grizzlies eliminated Oklahoma City in five games…

Klay Thompson, who had 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting, made a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter that sliced San Antonio’s lead to three. Then Curry’s pull-up jumper brought the Warriors within 77-75 with 4:52 to play.

– Reported by Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press

zach randolph

The Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 on Wednesday night.

Zach Randolph had 28 points and 14 rebounds, Mike Conley added 13 points and 11 assists for Memphis, the fifth seed.

Kevin Durant missed a 16-foot jumper from the left wing to tie it with 6 seconds left, finishing off a miserable shooting night for the three-time NBA scoring champion.

Durant ended up with 21 points on 5-for-21 shooting, the third-worst performance of his playoff career. The Thunder, who made it to the NBA Finals last season, were eliminated in five games. The top seed in the West went 2-6 after All-Star guard Russell Westbrook went out with a knee injury that required surgery.

Serge Ibaka had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 1:26 to play during a desperation comeback try for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City trailed by 12 with three minutes left before going on a 16-6 rally, with Reggie Jackson’s 3-pointer cutting the deficit to 86-84 with 14.3 seconds remaining.

Randolph missed both free throws with 11.3 seconds on the clock to give the Thunder one last chance to save their season. Durant got the ball beyond the 3-point line on the left wing and navigated around Tony Allen before missing the jumper.

Allen then made two free throws to close it out.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

lebron james

A fast start and faster finish were enough to send the Miami Heat back to the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James scored 23 points, Dwyane Wade added 18 and the Heat rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91 on Wednesday night and close out their second-round series in five games.

Chris Bosh scored 12 points and Udonis Haslem added 10 for Miami, which ran out to a 22-4 lead, then was outscored by a whopping 29 points over the next 27 minutes before recovering. The Heat outscored the Bulls 25-14 in the fourth.

Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who were without Derrick Rose for the 99th straight game. Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler missed potential tying 3-pointers on the final possession of the season for Chicago, which dropped the last four games of the series.

Robinson scored 21 points, Butler had 19, and Richard Hamilton 15 for the Bulls.

And there was drama, all the way to the end.

Robinson’s 3-pointer with 1:43 left got the Bulls to 94-91, and Butler knocked the ball away from Chris Bosh for a turnover on the ensuing Miami possession. But Boozer missed an open 15-footer with about a minute remaining and, when Wade knocked the ball off Boozer’s leg after a Miami miss with 45 seconds left, the Heat retained possession - with a fresh shot clock to boot.

But Miami didn’t score, and the Bulls had a final chance. Robinson missed a 3, and Butler faked his way free for a good look that hit the rim, before bouncing away.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Tony Parker

Tony Parker had 25 points and 10 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs held the Golden State Warriors’ starting backcourt to 13 points for a 109-91 victory Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Kawhi Leonard added 17 points, Danny Green scored 16 and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.

Harrison Barnes scored 25 points, Jarrett Jack added 20 and Carl Landry 16 for Golden State. No other Warriors player had more than nine points.

The Spurs held Mark Jackson’s self-proclaimed ”greatest shooting backcourt” in NBA history to 6-for-22 shooting. Stephen Curry finished with nine points, going 1 for 7 on 3-pointers, and Klay Thompson was held to four while not even attempting a 3.

Curry has not missed any time since turning his right ankle late in Game 3, but the injury seemed to limit his explosiveness.

Leonard stripped Curry and then outran him to the ball midway through the first quarter, feeding Parker for an uncontested layup. Curry appeared to grimace when he attempted to push off to sprint for the loose ball.

The Spurs led for all but the opening 6 minutes of the game…

Curry and Thompson were held to a combined four points on 2-for-10 shooting in the opening 16 minutes, but Barnes had 13 points and Jack seven…

Parker passed Chauncey Billups for fourth in postseason assists among active players with 832. New York’s Jason Kidd (1,258), the Lakers’ Steve Nash (1,061) and Boston’s Rajon Rondo (845) are ahead of Parker.

– Reported by Raul Dominguez of the Associated Press

Pacers beat Knicks 93-82 to take 3-1 series lead

The Indiana Pacers finally figured it out.

When given the chance to take command of a playoff series, they can’t give it back. On Tuesday night, they didn’t.

George Hill scored 26 points and Paul George had 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, leading the Pacers past the New York Knicks, 93-82 and to within one win of their first conference finals appearance since 2004.

”We wanted it,” George said. ”For us to come out with that edge, still, after being up 2-1 and being on our floor for Game 4, for us to be up and ready and have an edge to play, it just speaks to how focused we are right now.” …

The Pacers were strong defensively again, had another big rebounding advantage (54-36) and never really let the Knicks challenge them in the second half. They can wrap up the series Thursday night in New York.

Desperate New York tried everything to change the script. Nothing worked.

Kenyon Martin played 29 minutes and J.R. Smith logged 31 1/2 despite missing practice Sunday and Monday because they were ill. Guard Iman Shumpert started even with a sore and swollen left knee that had the Knicks so worried they brought an orthopedic doctor to Indy to examine it Tuesday. The doctor determined there was no structural damage.

Amare Stoudemire was called for four fouls in 11-plus minutes in his second game back since March 7 and had only four points and four rebounds.

NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony finished with 24 points before fouling out with 2 minutes left in the game. He took only four shots in the fourth quarter and was held without a basket over the final 12 minutes for the second straight game.

Smith, the NBA’s top sixth man, scored 19 points, most coming in a futile attempt to rally his team late.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

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