NBA Finals Heat vs. Spurs Game 2: Spurs rain threes, blow out Heat 113-77

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It was San Antonio’s turn for a blowout.

After an ugly Game 2 loss the Spurs came out and rained down an NBA Finals record 16 threes — led by Danny Green with 7 and Gary Neal with 6, those two combined for 51 points and this was a complete domination by the Spurs, 113-77. San Antonio dominated the second half,  turning a six-point halftime lead into a 36 point thrashing of Miami. The Spurs take a 2-1 series lead.

Miami were not nearly as aggressive defensively as Game 2 and the Spurs exploited the openings with precision. But a sign of the effort was the Spurs grabbing 19 offensive rebounds — they got the offensive board on 42.2 percent of their missed shots. That’s just hustle and desire, which the Spurs had in truckloads and the Heat apparently left in Miami.

San Antonio had a good defensive game plan as well, they gave the Heat midrange jumpers and Miami clanked them. But this was a night the Spurs offense could do no wrong.

Game 4 is Thursday night.

END OF FOURTH QUARTER: It ends 113-77 Spurs, they have 16 threes.

1:35 Fourth Quarter: It’s a 33 point Spurs lead as the stats get skewed in garbage time.

3:39 Fourth Quarter: Gary Neal and Danny Green a combined 13-of-19 from three.

4:21 Fourth Quarter: Spurs 16-30 from three.

5:43 Fourth Quarter: Gregg Popovich and Eric Spoelstra have emptied the benches. Just like last game the final five minutes of this one are garbage time.

6:39 Fourth Quarter: Tracy McGrady enters the game to a standing ovation. 28 point Spurs lead now.

7:47 Fourth Quarter: Lead was up to 29, down to 23… it’s a blowout but a frustrated Popovich called a timeout. Spoelstra leaving his stars out there, let them soak up this experience, maybe motivate them for the next game. Heat defense isn’t good tonight, let the Spurs shooters get going and then it was over.

9:38 Fourth Quarter: 13-0 run by Spurs to start fourth. The Spurs are up by 26 now and this place is deafening. The Spurs fans are eating this up.

10:33 Fourth Quarter: Gary Neal with two long bomb threes to start the fourth, and we are back to blowout mode, 21 point lead.

11:41 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker back in the game. Whatever was bothering him (seemed to be working on hamstring) he’s playing through it.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Heat with 13 turnovers in three quarters. They had 14 in the first two games combined.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: 78-63 Spurs. This quarter was all Spurs as they led by more than 20 at one point, but a nine point run by LeBron makes it 15 at the half (there was a Ginobili bucket at the end of the quarter). That was enough of a Heat run to force Popovich to take the start of this quarter seriously. We may see Duncan soon.

:22 Third Quarter: LeBron with nine straight points, knocking down jumpers and it is down to 13 point Spurs lead.

2:54 Third Quarter: It is 73-52 Spurs. Miami is just missing everything, good look or not, and the Spurs are moving the ball and getting the looks they like.

3:36 Third Quarter: LeBron 2-of-12 to start, just like last game. Spurs now up 17 and in total control.

4:09 Third Quarter: Tony Parker has gone back to the locker room. It’s not mattering, Spurs up 17.

5:07 Third Quarter: Leonard makes steal and Ginobili finishes in transition. Spurs by 14 now.

6:00 Third Quarter: Mike Miller hits another, now 8-8 from three in this series. He’s the only guy knocking down outside shot for the Heat.

7:29 Third Quarter: Mike Miller comes in and knocks down a three, but two Kawhi Leonard offensive boards lead to a Danny Green three. 62-49 Spurs.

9:44 Third Quarter: Wade is struggling to start the second half. Meanwhile Danny Green three and real hustle from the Spurs — Duncan blocks and saves, then Leonard saves the saves to transition foul. 59-46 Spurs, 13 points is largest of the game.

10:28 Third Quarter: Duncan and Haslem push all the way up the court, then suddenly Duncan gets called 54-46 Spurs.

11:44 Third Quarter: Heat try to post LeBron, and Leonard jumps around him for steal, creates transition opportunity where Splitter was fouled. 52-44 Spurs.

HALFTIME: Halftime in the arena is one of the best — Quick Change. You get David Stern on TV? Sucks for you.

HALFTIME: Slow pace in the first half, 41 possessions. That certainly favors the Spurs.

HALFTIME: Heat led by 12 points by Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh by 10. LeBron 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

HALFTIME: Spurs hit 7-15 from three. Gary Neal leads them with 14 points off the bench, Tim Duncan has 10. Spurs also with 11 offensive rebounds, which is crazy high.

HALFTIME: 50-44 Spurs. Tony Parker tough leaning three, then Gary Neal defends LeBron James well then hits a three at the buzzer. Great close to quarter for Spurs.

:52 Second Quarter: Mike Miller with trail three ball in transition. 44-42 Spurs.

1:33 Second Quarter: Two straight Spurs turnovers lead to Heat points, Now 43-39 Spurs. 7-0 Heat run.

2:24 Second Quarter: Heat now 5-18 from outside the edge of the restricted area to the three point line. (Heat 6-10 in restricted area, also not great.)

3:00 Second Quarter: Gary Neal hits three, which is answered by Mike Miller at the other end. 43-35 Spurs.

4:35 Second Quarter: The Spurs are packing the paint again, LeBron tries to shoot over it from three and misses, Kawhi Leonard leaked out on the challenge, Tim Duncan rebounds and outlets to Leonard for the dunk. 40-30 Spurs.

5:47 Second Quarter: Mario Chalmers gets his third foul on an offensive drive. Heat go with no PG lineup. 36-28 Spurs.

6:45 Second Quarter: Dwyane Wade helps off Danny Green… Wade chose, poorly. Heat had stuck with Green all night but he made them pay here. 32-26 Spurs.

7:09 Second Quarter: Spurs went through a 1-11 shooting stretch. 29-26 Spurs.

7:47 Second Quarter: And as I type that, Bosh hits an elbow jumper. Combine that with a Norris Cole three and it is 27-26 Spurs, a 1 point game.

8:37 Second Quarter: Heat start game 1-9 from the midrange. Got to hit some of those.

9:07 Second Quarter: The Spurs are doing a great job of having bodies in the paint every time LeBron drives. The result is sometimes he settles. 27-20 Spurs.

9:47 Second Quarter: Referees letting them play tonight inside, teams need to adjust, not just look for calls.

10:21 Second Quarter: Gary Neal three stretches out Spurs lead 27-20.

11:03 Second Quarter: Lots of great hustle plays from the Spurs.

START OF SECOND QUARTER: Spurs shot 11-18, 61.1 percent in the first quarter. They are attacking and getting into the paint.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: 24-20 San Antonio. Spurs led by as many as eight, but Dwyane Wade hits 4-of-5 shots to keep Miami in mix.

:30 First Quarter: LeBron has 2 points but 3 assists as he draws the defense and moves the ball in this game. It’s a question of if he gets help.

1:00 First Quarter: Norris Cole and Gary Neal trade buckets. Then the Birdman cuts, gets the ball and dunks. 22-20 Spurs.

2:20 First Quarter: Early minutes for Matt Bonner and Curtis Joseph of the Spurs, with Gary Neal and Boris Diaw back in the rotation.

3:43 First Quarter: Manu Ginobili can still dunk! Pump fake at the arc, drove and there was no help. 17-14 Spurs.

4:08 First Quarter: Wade has scored or assisted on 10 of the Heat’s 12 points.

4:08 First Quarter: Wade steals the ball from Parker, runs the floor and gets the pass from LeBron to score in transition. 15-12 Spurs.

6:29 First Quarter: Heat came out of a timeout with an open Wade jumper then getting points in the paint and offensive boards. 13-7 Spurs.

6:29 First Quarter: Spurs are getting into the lane for attempts and kick-outs. Heat are working the ball around the perimeter then missing.

6:35 First Quarter: Heat start 2-9 shooting, with Bosh 1-of-5 and getting good looks he is just missing. 11-4 Spurs.

7:47 First Quarter: Duncan starts 1-4 shooting, but Kawhi Leonard has five yearly points. 9-4 Spurs.

9:15 First Quarter: Tony Parker with a jumper that falls, Bosh misses his baseline midrange that the Spurs gave him. 7-4 Spurs.

10:21 First Quarter: Very aggressive Tim Duncan to start, but he missed a shot inside and a couple free throws. 2-2 still.

11:10: First Quarter: Good pick-and-roll with Parker and Duncan and he got to that running hook he loves for a first shot. Wade answers. 2-2.

12:00: First Quarter: Interesting, The Spurs’ 2013 Western Conference championship banner already hanging in the rafters.

12:00: First Quarter: That is one big flag the Spurs waive around on the court.

12:00: First Quarter: Miami, San Antonio will see your child singing the national anthem and up you one cool outfit. (I’ll take him over Hootie any day.)

12:00: First Quarter: Hootie — Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish — was to sing the national anthem but couldn’t get there because of the traffic.

12:00: First Quarter: Traffic heading out to and the arena SUCKS. I say that and I live in Los Angeles. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and other Spurs players got to the arena later than they prefer because of it.

SAN ANTONIO — Greetings, welcome to PBT’s live blog for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the series tied 1-1 as we move on to Texas for the next three. Pull up a seat and make yourself comfortable

I’m Kurt, and I’ll be your host, snide comment maker and bartender for the night. Throughout the contest I’ll be updating the game and score, providing some thoughts and mocking a few people. So sit back, enjoy the game and follow along.

Michael Jordan scores again, this time with his Jumpman logo

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan is showing he still has the ability to score big – even though he hasn’t played in nearly 15 years.

The Hornets owner’s latest slam dunk off the court might come by way of the NBA’s new uniform contract with Nike.

Since the Jordan Brand is a Nike subsidiary and the namesake of the six-time NBA champion, the Hornets will be the only NBA team to wear the Jordan Brand “Jumpman” logo on their uniforms this season. That would appear to be a merchandising windfall.

After the switch from Adidas, the other 29 NBA teams will wear the Nike “swoosh” on their uniforms.

Charlotte’s All-Star point guard Kemba Walker loves the idea of the Hornets being unique – and knows it’s because of Jordan.

“I mean, he’s the GOAT (Greatest of All Time),” Walker said. “Everybody loves MJ. Everybody loves the way he competed and the way he carries himself.”

Especially off the court.

There isn’t a player in the league who doesn’t want to emulate the NBA’s greatest pitchman.

Though Jordan was not made available to be interviewed for this story, others praised his savvy and longevity.

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbook is a representative for the Jordan Brand, which sponsors 21 active NBA players. Westbrook is soaking up as much knowledge as he can working with Jordan.

The reigning league MVP said he’s tried to use what Jordan has done with marketing skills as a model for his own success.

“He set himself up, not just on the basketball court, but in business,” Westbrook said. “…. He set himself up tremendously – his kids, his family – by doing the right things on and off the court.”

Jordan last soared through the air in the NBA in 2003. But even now, at 54, his marketability doesn’t seem to be tapering off.

Forbes Magazine estimated last December that Jordan has made $1.7 billion since leaving the University of North Carolina in 1984 – more than any athlete ever.

The vast majority of his wealth has come from marketing, since Jordan earned $93 million during his playing career.

It’s all led to Jordan being able to call his own shots – like exclusive use of the Jumpman logo.

“Well, he does own the team,” Westbook quipped. “He gets to pick that for sure.”

Hornets forward Marvin Williams, who like Jordan played college basketball at North Carolina, said he knows the uniforms will be popular with NBA fans simply because of the “international symbol” Jumpman has become. The logo features a silhouette of Jordan leaping through the air, his legs scissored and one outstretched hand holding a basketball.

“That symbol – I have seen people have it on their clothes, their cars, tattoos,” Williams said.

Larry Miller, president of Jordan Brand, said the logo represents greatness “so it’s a natural fit to have it on the uniforms of MJ’s team.”

“Aligning his team and his brand brings everyone in the Jordan family closer together,” Miller said in an email to The Associated Press, “and it’s a win for both organizations.”

The Hornets recently opened an expanded team store at their downtown arena and are still receiving new Jumpman merchandise, but it’s not staying on the shelves very long.

Hornets executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer Pete Guelli said the team is expecting a “substantial increase” in merchandise sales.

“Being the only Jordan Brand team has a number of inherent advantages,” Guelli said. “It is also our first formal connection to our owner and allows us to explore additional extensions around that unique alignment.”

History indicates it should be a profitable connection.

“Obviously people knew who he was when he played, but when you see a 5- or 6-year-old kid walking around with Jordans on, and know who Michael Jordan is, but have never seen him play,” Williams said. “I have teammates that have never seen him play but know about everything he has done. It speaks volumes not only to what he has done as a player in his career, but it speaks a ton to what he has done post-basketball as well.”

AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

 

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic out 4-6 weeks with fractured face; Bobby Portis suspended 8 games for punch

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The price to be paid from the fight at Bulls practice Tuesday came into focus Wednesday.

Nikola Mirotic, who suffered a fractured upper jaw and concussion due to a punch from Bobby Portis, will be out at least a month from his injuries, the Bulls announced.

For his part, Portis has been suspended eight games by the Bulls without pay for his actions. He will be able to practice with the team, and can return to action on Nov. 7 against Toronto.

The incident happened during the Bulls practice Monday. This much everyone agrees on: What started as a physical battle for rebounding position around the basket turned into a shoving match between Mirotic and Portis. Also, so far this isn’t unusual, shoving matches happen every once in a while on every team (in every professional sport).

Then Portis punched Mirotic and dropped him, fracturing his face. While the first reports called it a “sucker punch” — likely spin from Mirotic’s agent/camp — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said he didn’t see it as one. Apparently, neither did Robin Lopez, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago.

Whether it was a sucker punch or not is moot — you can’t punch and drop a teammate. It crosses the line.

Mirotic may be the Bulls best player, and certainly will be one of their leading scorers this season. Portis has struggled to live up to his early promise and reportedly is frustrated with his role, and by extension Mirotic. That does not mean you can punch the team’s best player in the face. Rather the opposite.

Can you imagine the reaction of any other organization if their best player got punched by a teammate?

The Bulls have to make a decision on what to do with Portis, who has a $2.5 million team option for next season, then would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

What does Boston do without Gordon Hayward? Five things to watch

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Gordon Hayward’s injury sucked the air out of Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night. Cavaliers fans were buzzing, gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was carted off the court, and never got back to booing Kyrie Irving with the same venom, as it seemed petty after what had just happened.

Hayward is in Boston, will soon have surgery to fix things, and start a long road of recovery.

What do the Celtics do the rest of the season? (Or, until he gets back if you want to be an optimistic Celtics’ fan.) How much does this hurt Boston?

• Long-term, not too much changes. That comes with the caveat: So long as Hayward is able to recover and be himself again. With Danny Ainge at the helm, the Celtics have always taken the long view. They have not been in a rush to challenge LeBron James and the Cavaliers for East supremacy this season, thinking more about next season and beyond. That doesn’t change now. By next season Hayward should be back and healthy (*knocking on wood*) and the plan does not change.

• Welcome to the Kyrie Irving show. Boston’s offense could resemble last season’s “turn Isaiah Thomas loose” offense at times because the Celtics are back to having one primary shot creator. Hayward was going to be the glue guy who could be a secondary shot creator, a guy who would keep the ball moving, and the new guy used to playing in Brad Steven’s motion offense. Now, it’s the Kyrie show.

Stevens will try to get Irving and the team to buy into his motion offense (Irving did move well off the ball in the opener) but last season there was a lot of IT isolation plays, and we may see that at points with Irving (one of the games’ best iso shot creators). Irving had 22 points and 10 assists in the loss opening night, and he got them in the flow of the offense without stopping the ball to go isolation. He’s going to be asked to continue to do that and put up similar numbers or better, and to take the clutch shots for this team.

• Small Ball lineups. With or without Hayward, this was always part of the plan — have Al Horford at center, Irving at the point, and a bunch of 6’6” to 6’9” interchangable wings, play fast and shoot threes (count Marcus Morris in that group when he returns). The goal was to space the floor and create driving lanes for Irving and Hayward, but the plan still works for Irving.

It didn’t work ideally late in the opener, but LeBron James and the Cavaliers create unique challenges no other team in the East does. (Jaylen Brown played hard and had a great game, but he can’t stop LeBron down low late in games, only a couple of players in the entire league stand a chance at that.) The real question for the Celtics’ small ball lineup is they have to knock down their threes or defenses will sag off. Brown was 2-of-9, Marcus Smart 0-of-4, and as a team the Celtics shot 25 percent from three for the game. That has to improve for the small ball lineups to thrive.

• Can they get enough stops? This was the biggest question about the Celtics before one of their better wing defenders on the roster went down. They don’t have a classic rim protector (Aron Baynes did a little of that off the bench, but he’s mostly a big body) and their defenders tend to be either young and inexperienced or disinterested.

Boston’s defense wasn’t going to be that good before, but how big a step back they take in wins after the Hayward injury will be more about defense than offense. Boston will miss Hayward on this end of the court.

• Young players get a lot of run, team gets to evaluate roster. Just how good is Jayson Tatum, who can make tough, contested shots but needs to find a way to get easy buckets, too? How big a step can Jaylen Brown take? Has Marcus Smart developed to the point the Celtics will pay to keep him next summer? What kind of player can Semi Ojeleye develop into?

There’s going to be more data, more minutes, more eyeball tests to answer these questions now. Brown led the Celtics with 25 points in the opener, and Tatum scored all 14 of his points in the second half. Those were promising stars, but the tests for these young Celtics stars will be season long.

Smart is the biggest question in that list, and he’s going to get the biggest minutes bump with Hayward out. He’s a restricted free agent next summer and is playing for his paycheck now. He’s going to be one guy to watch on this team.

Fake Klay Thompson almost steals show in Golden State

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Klay Thompson was everywhere Tuesday night for the Warriors.

He had 16 points, knocked down four threes, and had six boards. He was also chillin’ in the stands enjoying the game.

Well, that was “fake” Klay Thompson in the seats — fully decked out in a Golden State uniform and sitting almost right behind the team bench at Oracle — but the cameras loved him.

Heck, “fake Klay” even had a take on real Klay’s first-half performance.

I wonder if I can get fake Klay to sign my toaster?