LeBron James

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.

NBA: Heat got away with two violations before clutch 3-pointer in win over Mavericks (video)

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Dirk Nowitzki entered Miami nostalgic about returning to the place he led the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title.

He left with a 99-95 loss to the Heat.

But perhaps correct officiating down the stretch would have produced a different result.

Before Tyler Johnson hit a key late 3-pointer, Miami got away with two violations, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Goran Dragic should’ve been called for travelling with 1:47 left:

Dragic (MIA) moves his pivot foot.

Failing that, Hassan Whiteside should’ve been whistled for a three-second violation with 1:45 left:

Whiteside (MIA) is in the paint for longer than three seconds.

Either call would’ve ended the Heat’s possession. Instead, they kept swinging the ball until Johnson hit his 3-pointer.

We’ll never know how the game would’ve played out with a correct call, but at different points, Dallas trailed by just two and three while having to intentionally foul.

Raptors Kyle Lowry was ejected Sunday for blow to Brandon Knight’s head (VIDEO)

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Kyle Lowry has had an All-Star worthy season, but he’s had a rough few games.

His jumper has gone missing the last three games — he is shooting 35.4 percent overall and 25.9 percent from three in those games. Not coincidentally, all three of those are Raptors losses.

Then on Sunday, he struck the Suns’ Brandon Knight in the head as Knight drove the lane. Lowry made an ill-advised swipe at the ball after Knight got past him and smacked Knight on the head. Lowry was given a Flagrant 2 and was ejected, which was the right call.

Lowry took responsibility for the hit and said after the game he texted Knight to apologize, that he wasn’t a dirty player and didn’t intend to do hurt Knight. Classy move. But Lowry still could face a fine from the league for this.

Three things we learned Sunday: Roller coaster Laker season has some deep, deep dips

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers watches play during a 101-89 Dallas Mavericks win at Staples Center on December 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With a couple of important football games Sunday you may have missed some other things. Like why a highway was covered in red Skittles. Or, the handful of NBA Games that took place. We can help you with the latter, here are the big takeaways from Sunday.

1) On the anniversary of Kobe’s 81-point game, Lakers only score 73.
I keep waiting for the day Luke Walton snaps.

He has been the model of the patient, developmental basketball coach of a young team this season — it’s about progress, about lessons learned, about laying a foundation that helps this young core grow into something more dangerous in future years. He has been what the Lakers needed, a departure from last year and he who shall not be named. However, the lack of effort and growth on defense — the continued inability to defend the pick-and-roll — has to be eating at him inside. This is a young team, it’s going to have ups and downs, but the downs have been deep and pronounced, and at some point I expect Walton to just unload on his young charges.

Although if it didn’t happen after Sunday, it might never happen. On the 11th anniversary of Kobe’s 81-point game, the Lakers as a team scored just 73 points. Los Angeles lost by 49 points, a franchise record for worst loss ever. Walton said after the game the Lakers lacked the kind of veteran or natural leader on this team who would take charge on the court and call out his teammates off it in moments like this. Maybe he needs to be that guy.

Comments about the Lakers often talk about a quality young core for them to build around. There is some truth to that. Brandon Ingram has had some better games of late, although on Sunday he was asked to start for the injured D’Angelo Russell and be a playmaker and that failed. Ingram missed his first shot and it got in his head for the rest of the day, throwing off his game. Ingram needs to be a better shot creator (and get stronger). Jordan Clarkson can score the rock, and both he and Larry Nance Jr. are future NBA rotation players who can contribute to very good teams. Then there is Russell — nobody has been more up and down this season than the second-year point guard. A few weeks back I wrote about how he had finally developed a game-day routine and seemed to be turning a corner with a string of strong games. Since then he’s pretty much stunk. He’s developing, although it’s fair to ask if he’s doing that fast enough?

(Still, the Lakers really missed Russell Sunday — he’s the only guard they have who is a threat to score from three or getting into the lane, he’s a good passer who sees the angles on the court, and when he’s out there the ball moves better. This Lakers team lacks shot creators and when Russell is out the offense can stagnate quickly, reverting to one-on-one plays.)

It’s fair to ask why the inconsistent defensive efforts? Well, consistently bad may be the more accurate description. They make bad decisions constantly, and the veterans they have either are not great defenders — Nick Young, Lou Williams — or can be drawn into bad positions, such as Timofey Mozgov having to defend Dirk Nowitzki Sunday.

It’s also fair to ask if the Lakers really have an alpha in this core? Do they have a top 15 NBA player that can be the cornerstone of a future contender? I don’t see it. Maybe Ingram with some muscle and experience on him can get there — scouts are still very high on his game — but I do not see it elsewhere. Plus, I don’t see the alpha, ultra-competitive personality that doesn’t accept losing gracefully. Again, maybe Russell or someone has that and is just not confident showing it yet, but this team lacks it.

With all that, the Lakers development roller coaster seems to have bigger dips than highs. Which has to frustrate Walton. And at some point, he’s going to lose it.

2) The Suns beat the Raptors, and Eric Bledsoe was the reason.
Phoenix has won a couple of game in a row, and while beating the Knicks does not earn guys high praise, beating the Toronto Raptors will do that. Quietly Eric Bledsoe has had a borderline All-Star season — he’s not going to make the team due to the depth of talent in the West and the fact the Suns suck — and he showed it Sunday with an impressive 40 points to get Phoenix the win.

3) The Warriors punish Magic to end week where they asserted themselves. Last week for the Warriors started with a rematch against Cleveland, and Golden State earned a measure of confidence blowing them out. Then the Warriors beat Russell Westbrook and the Thunder thanks to a “look at what you’re missing” game from Kevin Durant. Then the Warriors knocked off the surging Rockets and James Harden.

That’s a good week, although the Warriors still had to face the Magic on Sunday. That had the makings of a potential let down game but the Warriors pulled away for the win.

Golden State has established itself as the best team in the NBA this regular season. There’s still a lot of season (nearly half) to go, and they will get tested in the playoffs, but they have set the mark to beat. Did they set the bar last year, too? Yes. And they made the Finals (and would have won if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself), not something to ignore. But this season feels different with Durant in the fold. We’ll see. But for right now, they keep right on rolling at 38-6.

Suns’ Marquese Chriss shows off crazy hops to throw down alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Marquese Chriss has ridiculous athleticism, which is why a lot of teams had their eye on him last draft.

He’s still trying to figure out how to make that talent work for him on the court, but on plays like this third quarter alley-oop your jaw drops.

The Suns got the upset win over the Raptors thanks to a monster game from Eric Bledsoe.