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.

Thunder get off to fast start, survive wild ending to win 98-97, even series with Spurs

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, center, scramble with San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, right, for a loose ball as time expires in the second half in Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2016, in San Antonio. Oklahoma City won 98-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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When the playoffs are all over, and all the confetti has fallen at the parade celebrating the 2016 NBA champion, we are still going to be talking about this game. The Spurs and Warriors gave us everything — great shooting, leads and comebacks, and a wild, controversial ending.

What ultimately matters is the Thunder bounced back from a rough first game, were aggressive from the start and raced out to that early lead using their transition offense. Then a team that blew a lot of leads this season hung on through multiple Spurs comebacks and ultimately got a 98-97 win behind 29 points from Russell Westbrook and 28 from Kevin Durant (who played well at the four spot much of the night). The series is now tied 1-1 heading back to Oklahoma City.

All the controversy at the end doesn’t change that fact, or that the Thunder did some things much better in Game 2.

The Thunder have had moments like this throughout the season, where they defended better, got transition points, and Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter (or someone else) would step up and make plays — but they didn’t sustain that high level of play for very long. They still won 55 games because Durant and Westbrook are talented, but we will see if they can sustain a “beat the Spurs” level of play for most of the next couple weeks.

San Antonio helped out by having their offense not as sharp, and just missing shots — the Spurs started 2-of-15 from the field and finished the game shooting just 26.1 percent from three. The missed shots allowed the Thunder to get out in transition more and get the easy buckets that fuel their offense.

But that’s not what anybody is talking about, this is:

Those final 13 seconds, when the Spurs were down 1 and the Thunder were trying to inbound the ball, is the topic of the day. The referees swallowed their whistles to the point that a rugby scrum broke out.

The most discussed part of the play was the inbound — Dion Waiters reaches across the boundary line to shove Manu Ginobili back, which is a clear foul and a change of possessions. Ginobili had stepped on the end line, which could have been ruled a technical but was not as egregious as Waiters’ blatant foul. There were a host of other fouls in those final seconds: Kawhi Leonard grabbing Westbrook’s jersey, a Spurs fan grabbing Steven Adams when he fell out of bounds and not letting him back in the play, and Ibaka hacking LaMarcus Aldridge in the final seconds.

But that’s not what decided the game. The Spurs made a lot of mistakes and missed a lot of clean looks before that, things they needed at the end. Aldridge had 41 points, and Leonard added 12. However, Tim Duncan was 1-of-8, and Tony Parker was 3-of-9 — those guys are not the top offensive options anymore, but the Spurs need them to be efficient. The hustling Thunder defense had something to do with this, but that doesn’t change that the Spurs need more from these two key players.

The Thunder offense worked not because they shared the ball — as per usual, it happens only in spurts — but because Westbrook and Durant hit their shots, and because they got transition buckets.

If they can do that for a couple more games at home, they will be in command of this series. But it’s not going to be simple or easy.

Referees miss Dion Waiters push off, multiple other calls in final seconds of Thunder’s win over San Antonio

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Manu Ginobili said it perfectly after the game: This one play, this one sequence is not why the Spurs lost Game 2 of their series against the Thunder.

However, I can’t remember a time the referees swallowed their whistles on so many calls in the final seconds of a game.

Oklahoma City was up one with 13.5 seconds left (after Serge Ibaka made a silly foul on LaMarcus Aldridge shooting a three), the Thunder just needed to inbound the ball, get fouled and hit their free throws. But it wasn’t that easy.

First and most notably, Dion Waiters was trying to inbound the ball and pushed off on Manu Ginobili guarding the inbound play. That’s a foul, or a technical depending upon which rule you want to apply. But the Spurs should have had the ball out of bounds, the referees just missed that one and both Chris Webber on the call and the TNT Inside the NBA crew harped on that one. They were right.

The officials admitted as much, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Ken Mauer, lead referee from tonight’s game: “On the floor we did not see a foul on the play. However, upon review we realize and we agree we should have had an offensive foul on the play. It’s a play we’ve never seen before, ever. We should have had an offensive foul on the play.”

The question Thunder fans are asking: Why wasn’t Ginobili called for stepping on the out of bounds line? In the final two minutes that’s a technical (the rule book says it’s a foul if he “crosses or breaks the plane of the boundary line,” Ginobili has a toe on the line). Also Leonard had Russell Westbrook‘s jersey through that entire inbounds play.

Waiters did throw a leaping inbound pass as Ginobili stumbled backwards, and he threw it to Durant — who was held as he went for the ball by Danny Green. That should have been a foul call (although Waiters’ inbound foul would have nullified it if that call had been made).

The Spurs get the ball in a scramble for the rock and end up kicking out to Patty Mills for a corner three (not sure that was the best shot), but he missed. In the rebound scramble there could have been a few calls, but the most obvious was Ibaka hacking Aldridge trying to get a putback. It was another clear foul.

All that obscured some great plays — Ginobili with the no-look, behind the head pass to Mills in the corner, or Steven Adams with an amazing closeout to get a piece of Mills’ shot, to name a couple.

I get it, the referees don’t want to decide the game with their whistle, but when it turns into a rugby scrum there should be calls, and the referees shouldn’t be afraid to make them.

Watch LeBron James make plays when it matters in fourth quarter

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On paper LeBron James didn’t have a great fourth quarter — 2-of-7 shooting, both his buckets right at the rim, and he’d been passive for long stretches of the game.

But when the Cavaliers made a 17-2 run late in the game that earned them the Game 1 win over Atlanta, LeBron was at the heart of it all. He had assists, a key steal, and a powerful and-1 dunk. You can check out LeBron’s impressive play in the last five minutes above.

Revived in crunch time, LeBron James pushes Cavaliers past Hawks in Game 1

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LeBron James  hadn’t scored in more than 10 minutes, and it was getting late in the fourth quarter. The Hawks had gone on 11-0 and 10-0 runs since his last points. And Paul Millsap forced LeBron to lose control of the ball as he went up for a left-handed layup.

A moment of truth for the Cavaliers?

LeBron pushed the ball through the hoop with his right hand while being fouled.

If you didn’t get the message, he flexed and slapped his right bicep once he landed.

It wasn’t always smooth, but Cleveland overpowered Atlanta 104-93 in Game 1 of their second-round series Monday. The Cavaliers have won seven straight overall against the Hawks, including a sweep in last year’s Eastern Conference finals, and LeBron is now 9-0 against Atlanta in the playoffs.

“Obviously, you could tell that they went through a longer series than us,” said LeBron, whose Cavs swept the Pistons eight days ago. The Hawks beat the Celtics in six four days later.

Home Game 1 winners have won the series 85% of the time, and Atlanta will have its work cut out to become an exception.

LeBron’s offensive passiveness during Atlanta’s comeback was unwelcome, but when needed, he delivered. His 3-point play highlighted a 17-2 run that would’ve ended the game if not for a garbage-time 3-pointer by the Hawks. LeBron (25 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, five steals and a block) also stole the ball from red-hot Dennis Schröder on consecutive late possessions. This was two-way excellence when it counted, the type of production that has taken LeBron to five straight Finals.

The Cavaliers had such a big lead (18) to blow because they were hot from beyond the arc (15-for-31, 48%). When they missed, Tristan Thompson (seven offensive rebounds) got them extra opportunities.

Kevin Love (17 points and 11 rebounds) threw his body around enough to get a double-double despite shooting 4-for-17. Kyrie Irving (21 points on 8-of-18 shooting and eight assists) forced too many bad shots, but he made some tough ones and kept the ball moving.

At times, it seemed Irving was going one-on-one with Schröder (27 points on 5-of-10 3-point shooting and six assists). As impressive as Schröder was from beyond the arc and attacking the rim, Kent Bazemore (16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) was his only reliable scoring sidekick.

After allowing 30 points in the first quarter, Atlanta cranked up it defense to the frenetic level showed against Boston. Millsap (17 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals), Al Horford (10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals) and Bazemore (two steals) led the effort.

And Cleveland surrendered open 3s when the Hawks moved the ball, which they usually did. If they make more of those open looks, it’s easy to see them winning.

But can they win four of the next six games?

As long as LeBron plays for the Cavs, that’s a monumental challenge.