NBA Finals Game 1: Spurs win fourth quarter, win game 92-88

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Miami was up by three points heading into the fourth quarter but the Spurs were the better team when it mattered — San Antonio had zero turnovers in the quarter, Miami had 5. The Heat shot just 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter and Chris Bosh was 1-of-5 from the floor.

Combine that with great play from Tony Parker — including an insane shot with 5 seconds left — and the Spurs take Game 1 on the road 92-88.

The big take away we should have from this game — man this was fun. Two teams that for the most part played good basketball and pushed the pace — this wasn’t the grind-it-out stuff of the last round, this was entertaining and smart basketball. I hope we get seven games of this kind of play.

END OF GAME: 92-88 Spurs take Game 1. Great defense from San Antonio in the fourth, they hit their shots. And we have a series.

:05 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker with shot right at buzzer… so close. Refs could rule either way if it was too late. But the refs make the right call and count it (he got it off by just a split second), and Spurs up 92-88 and will force Heat to score quick and foul. Amazing play by Parker, who fell, but got up and went up and under for the shot.

:31 Fourth Quarter: Parker misses jumper. At other end LeBron fouled in post, hits both three throws, 90-88 Spurs, and Heat will get last shot.

:58 Fourth Quarter: Chris Bosh misses a wide-open three.

1:08 Fourth Quarter: Duncan uses pump fake to create room, drives the paint and is fouled. Hits both 90-86 Spurs.

1:28 Fourth Quarter: Allen hits all three, 88-86 Spurs.

1:30 Fourth Quarter: Huge three by Danny Green has Spurs up 7. LeBron layup makes it five, then next possession Danny Green fouls Ray Allen on a three. Bad foul, Ray can get it to two.

2:40 Fourth Quarter: Sours put LeBron on Parker. 85-81 Spurs.

3:30 Fourth Quarter: Spurs outscoring Heat 16-7 in the fourth so far. Miami hasn’t scored in nearly four minutes. Heat 3-12 shooting in the fourth

3:30 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker with stepback jumper makes it 85-79 Spurs, six point lead. Other guys have stopped hitting for the HEat and it’s killing them (plus, Spurs playing good defense).

4:05 Fourth Quarter: Duncan makes a tip-in, Wade misses a layup, then next Heat possession the Heat see Chalmers get stripped. 83-79 Spurs as they are the ones cranking up their defense.

5:59 Fourth Quarter: LeBron has been dishing as the defense comes to him, but hasn’t scored himself since 6:48 of the third quarter. That’s fine if other guys are hitting enough.

5:59 Fourth Quarter: LeBron assist to Chris Bosh for a midrange jumper is LeBron’s 10th assist, he has a triple double. But a couple turnovers have the Spurs converting in transition. 81-78 Spurs.

7:47 Fourth Quarter: After sloppy turnover, Parker on runout is fouled, hits both free throws and Spurs have their first lead since the first quarter, 77-76.

10:55 Fourth Quarter: LeBron is back, Heat are up 76-73. No pain for Miami from resting him and Wade at same time.

10:55 Fourth Quarter: Referees are letting them play a little. As it should be in the finals. 74-73 Heat.

10:55 Fourth Quarter: Heat rest LeBron and Wade to start fourth, key stretch here.

START OF FOURTH QUARTER: Both teams have dictated this game with their offense, if one team can start to do it with their defense they will win.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: LeBron now one assist short of a triple double now.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: LeBron James is doing damage on the left block, driving, drawing defenders and finding the open man. This is just well played offensive basketball by both teams (against good defenses), 72-69 Heat with 12 minutes to go.

1:02 Third Quarter: Both teams are making great passes and getting role players to hit shots. Just a fun game. Ray Allen three makes it 72-67 Heat.

2:52 Third Quarter: Heat 7-18 from three, when they are attacking the rim and hitting the kick-outs. That makes them tough to beat, 69-64 Heat.

5:29 Third Quarter: What are you missing in the arena? Jimmy Buffett and Emilio Estefan playing with the Miami Heat bongo section. I’m not making that up.

5:29 Third Quarter: LeBron assists on a Haslem jumper. LeBron now three assists shy of a triple-double — 12 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists. Midway through the third quarter. 62-59 Heat.

6:20 Third Quarter: LeBron backs down Leonard in the post for two, Duncan backs down Haslem in the post. 60-59 Heat.

7:10 Third Quarter: A driving layup by Ginobili makes it a 6-0 Spurs run and a 58-57 Heat, forcing Spoelstra to call a time out.

8:02 Third Quarter: For those of you saying the Spurs should not try and run with the Heat, this is what they did all season. They push off missed shots. It’s worse to change your identity now. 58-55 Heat.

HALFTIME: Some stats for you: Heat shooting 50 percent overall, 6-15 from three. Scoring leaders are Wade (13), LeBron has 10 points and 8 rebounds. Spurs shooting 42.9 percent, 4-10 from three. Tim Duncan has 12 points and 9 rebounds, Danny Green and Tony Parker each have 9 points.

HALFTIME: 52-49 Heat. Wade looks good and has 13 for the Heat, Duncan has 12 for the Spurs including a great stepback jumper to end the half.

:23 Second Quarter: Tony Parker with a driving layup, cuts lead to 50-47 Heat.

:57 Second Quarter: Heat are in attack mode. It’s like the Heat finally figured out “wait, they don’t have Hibbert, we should totally attack the rim.” 50-44 Heat.

3:34 Second Quarter: Chris Bosh picks up his third foul and goes to the bench 48-42 Heat.

2:30 Second Quarter: Shane Battier just missed good look threes on back-to-back possessions. He said being benched was like eating a turd sandwich. Remind me not to smell his breath because he’s going to be eating those again if he keeps shooting like that.

4:47 Second Quarter: Dwyane Wade has 9 points as he attacks the rim. Everybody on the Heat is going at the rim, they are having fun with no Hibbert in the paint. Heat 46-38.

6:38 Second Quarter: Combined, these teams are 10-18 from three.

9:50 Second Quarter: Danny Green is now 3-4 from three and the Heat call time out to remind Wade to be careful about helping off him. 38-34 Heat.

8:15 Second Quarter: Norris Cole on a good look three, came off the help coming to LeBron and him making the pass. San Antonio’s rotation not there yet 38-29 Heat. Spurs shooting 45 percent.

9:50 Second Quarter: Mike Miller trails the break, gets the good look three and drains it. Heat 5-10 from three, up 31-26.

10:23 Second Quarter: Ray Allen drained another three, he got his groove back. But Kawhi Leonard made a sweet move on LeBron, and a couple Splitter free throws and it is 28-26 Heat.

START OF SECOND QUARTER: Gregg Popovich just said his team was sharper off the layoff than he expected. And he was on his best behavior for the in-game interview for a change.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: It’s 24-23 Heat and it looks like we are in for a fun series. Great pace, after two defensive, slow conference finals this is just entertaining. Biggest news may be two fouls on Tim Duncan.

1:43 First Quarter: Tim Duncan is 0-5 shooting to start the game. It’s 22-19 Heat.

2:10 First Quarter: The most important news: Flo Rida is in the building (remember his manager got tossed from courtside in Game 7). Also, Ray Allen hit a three. 21-19.

3:02 First Quarter: Spurs are getting help from role players — Diaw with a cut and reverse layup, then Ginobili fouled on a nice drive. But it stays close because of a LeBron three. 19-18 Spurs.

5:40 First Quarter: Love the pace of this one — both teams like to run, a lot of transition points and opportunities. This is going to be fun to watch. 15-13 Miami.

6:30 First Quarter: Parker hits a bucket on a cut to the rim, Bosh hits a midrange jumper. Those are the shots both teams want and will take. 11-11.

8:07 First Quarter: Miami getting corner threes early. Chalmers hits one, then next trip down Bosh hits a long two, 9-8 Spurs.

9:56 First Quarter: Rust? Rust never sleeps.

9:56 First Quarter: Miami forced to take a timeout after a Parker pass to a cutting Splitter off means an open layup and a 9-2 Spurs lead.

10:20 First Quarter: The Spurs take a 7-2 lead on a pretty ideal play for them — two pick-and-rolls for Tony Parker, he passes out of the pressure, two quick passes and Danny Green drains a three. Spurs now up 7-2.

11:40 First Quarter: We are underway and it’s a pretty ideal start for Miami — they force a turnover, get out and run and a dunk by Dwyane Wade off a LeBron James assist.

12:00 First Quarter: Man, the pregame process for the Finals never ends.

12:00 First Quarter: I love White Stripes “Seven Nation Army,” but ever since it became associated with the Miami Heat intro I just can’t hear it the same way. Still, that song makes and awesome soccer crowd chant. We should all leave it at that.

12:00 First Quarter: We have yet to tip-off, they are just about to do the National Anthem, so you still have time to run to the fridge and get an IPA and a the guacamole to go with the chips.

Welcome to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat hosting the San Antonio Spurs. And welcome to the ProBasketballTalk live blog for the tip-off of this series.

I’m Kurt, and I’ll be your host, commenter and bartender for the night. I’ll be updating the game and score, providing some commentary and making some asides. So sit back, enjoy the game and follow along.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.

Report: Isaiah Thomas looking at first week of January for return to Cavs

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Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.

Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.

Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.

Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.

Via Twitter:

Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.

No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.

If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.

DeMarcus Cousins thinks refs are giving him techs off reputation alone

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New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins is a fiery personality on the court, often arguing foul calls at length despite no official in NBA history reversing a call directly after player complaint.

Crafty veterans — your LeBron Jameses and your Chris Pauls — slowly and pointedly chatter with officials as a means to influence their subconscious leaning on calls (and to protect them against earning techs when they do decide to straight up yell at refs).

Cousins hasn’t used that kind of angling to success in his career, instead going hard at referees with some consistency. Cousins has tried to change that approach this season, but instead has found that his prior actions have earned him a reputation the Pelicans forward believes doesn’t befit his actions in 2017-18.

Speaking to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Cousins said that despite letting more calls go and changing his candor, NBA refs are not responding proportionately.

Via The Undefeated:

I am going out of my way. I am going over and beyond,” Cousins said. “I am coming in saying, ‘We can’t do this, this and this …’ Even calls I know I should be arguing, I’m letting go. And they’re still like … it’s a one-sided thing. Everything is changing from one end. But with them, it’s like, ‘We are not letting go of the past. You are who you are. You’re getting a tech.’

“So, when it comes to me getting a tech for saying, ‘Good call, referee …,’ vets and coaches tell me to butter them up. Switch it up a little bit. Do a little reverse psychology. Tell them it’s a good call. And you still getting a tech for it? They’re not trying to make it work. They’re stuck in their ways, and it is so obvious.”

Cousins added that he believes foes are taking advantage of his troubles.

“Now it’s to the point where teams are saying, ‘Yeah, just go over there and beat the s— out of him.’ I don’t get calls, and I’m not protected like other players are,” he said.

It’s interesting to see that Cousins has at least tried to change things up, and indeed acknowledges that he should be trying to work with the officials rather than antagonize them.

Still, we’re not sure what the tone of his “good call” comments are toward the refs. Are they sarcastic? Or are they contrite? You can see how one might earn Cousins a tech from an official — who seem to be particularly sensitive this season — and the other might endear you to them.

James Harden is playing with a bruised right knee

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James Harden, Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets are on a 13-game winning streak. They have a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. But it’s not all rosy in Space City.

Harden suffered a bruised right knee against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and almost had to sit out the Rockets’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after the win over the Bucks, Harden said that he was in some pain but a doctor told him he would be able to play and that he would not make the condition worse.

Via ESPN:

“I wasn’t feeling well at all, but the doc came in and just told me that there’s going to be pain for a bit, but you can play through it,” Harden said. “It can’t get worse, but it’s going to be pretty painful until obviously you give it some time. Once he said that, I was like, ‘Let’s go.'”

“I wasn’t moving like I usually move, but we won,” said Harden.

If Harden wasn’t feeling well, it sure didn’t show. He had 31 points, although on 8-of-21 shooting against Milwaukee. Chris Paul chipped in with 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

It doesn’t sound like Harden will be missing a game any time soon, which is par for the course for him. He’s played in a minimum of 89 percent of his team’s regular season games since entering the league in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are blasting their way into 2018. They play the Warriors next on January 4.