Heat's James and Spurs' Parker follow the play during Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami

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.

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

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) reacts against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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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.

Larry Bird on Frank Vogel’s future with Pacers: “I don’t know what’s going to happen”

MIAMI, FL - MAY 24:  Team President Larry Bird of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Miami Heat during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 24, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Larry Bird wanted the Pacers to play smaller and faster this season. The Pacers started the season doing that, but they weren’t defending consistently and not winning enough (dropping 7-of-11 through one stretch in December), so coach Frank Vogel started to play bigger and slower. It worked well enough for the Pacers to make the playoffs and go seven games deep in the first round against the Raptors.

Team president Larry Bird isn’t happy — he doesn’t like that Vogel changed the team’s style. For that reason, it’s unclear if Vogel — whose contract is up — will be back with the Pacers next season. Here is what Bird told Greg Doyle of the Indianapolis Star.

Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird said Monday he hasn’t decided whether to bring back coach Frank Vogel for a seventh season, telling IndyStar: “It’s no secret — I want us to score more points…

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Bird said….

“Frank’s a great guy. He’s going to be fine no matter what happens. If he’s back, he’ll be fine here. If he’s not, he’s not. We’ll see.”

If Vogel were allowed to walk away, a host of other teams would line up to pay him. Houston would be an interesting fit (although that franchise reportedly has its sights set on Jeff Van Gundy).

Here’s the question Bird and team owner Herb Simon need to answer: If not Vogel, who do you have that’s better? Think about the coaches still on the market, who is better than Vogel?

Vogel gets his teams to defend like few other coaches in the league (the Pacers were third in the league in defensive rating this season with a largely overhauled roster), and that is the foundation of any winning team. Force an “offensive coordinator” assistant on Vogel if you want, but to give up one of the better young coaches in the NBA would be a mistake by the Pacers.

And if you want to play smaller and faster, get — and in the case of Solomon Hill try to keep — players who fit that style. Right now the Pacers roster is not constructed to be great that way.

Hornets future unclear with 4 starters becoming free agents

MIAMI, FL - MAY 01: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets takes the floor during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 1, 2016 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Charlotte Hornets have a major decision ahead of them this offseason – keep the core group from a team that tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference or revamp the roster by adding new pieces.

With four starters set to become free agents and only seven players under contract next season, the Hornets have the flexibility to make major changes if they so choose.

Coach Steve Clifford said Monday he’d prefer to coach the same group again, but acknowledged it might be difficult to re-sign everyone given the NBA salary cap.

Much of the Hornets future could be predicated on what happens with unrestricted free agent Nicolas Batum, whom Clifford acknowledged will be the team’s No. 1 priority in free agency. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the Hornets during the regular season, although his production was limited in the postseason due to a foot injury. The Hornets lost in seven games to the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Batum could command a max contract this offseason due to the increase in the NBA salary cap. And while it is debatable if he’s worth that much, Clifford knows he’s a valuable cog in the starting lineup.

When asked if he wants to return next year, Batum said, “Why not?,” saying this past season was one of the most enjoyable of his eight-year NBA career. He liked the freedom Clifford gave him and the idea of being one of first two options on offense.

“I want to talk to (the Hornets) first, for sure,” Batum said of free agency. “July 1 will be a crazy day, but will Charlotte be my first call? Yes.”

However, Batum indicated he only wants to return if the Hornets make an effort to bring back the nucleus of this year’s team.

He said the chemistry of this year’s Hornets team was outstanding, on and off the court.

Along with Batum, three others starters – Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson – are also unrestricted free agents. Backup Jeremy Lin is almost certainly going to opt out of the final year of his contract given he has outperformed the $2 million salary he’s set to make in 2016-17.

“If you asked me would I be interested in coming back, there’s no question in my mind – it’s a resounding yes,” Lin said. “I would be very interested in coming back.”

Lee, Williams and Jefferson also indicated their desire to return to the Hornets as well, but it remains unclear if general manager Rich Cho can – or even wants to – bring everyone back for another run at the playoffs or if he’ll look in a different direction to upgrade.

Cho is expected to meet with the media later this week.

“I feel like any time, especially in pro sports, when you keep a group of guys together for three or four years, whatever the case may be, you can do some really good things,” Williams said.

A look at what the Hornets face this offseason:

BIGGEST NEED: Rebounding. The Hornets rebounded well in the regular season, but Clifford said the team’s struggles on the glass in Games 6 and 7 against the Heat was a big reason it was ousted from the playoffs.

GOOD NEWS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed all but seven games due to shoulder injuries, is expected back next season. The former No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft is considered the team’s top defensive player.

BAD NEWS: By virtue of making the playoffs, the Hornets don’t have a lottery pick and may not have a chance to find the dominant offensive player that Clifford so desperately covets in the draft.

TOUGH ENDING: Kemba Walker said while losing to Miami in Game 7 was disappointing, the season is “one to be proud of.” Walked add, “At one point we were 17-20 and then we finished the season with 48 wins. I don’t think anybody expected that. Nobody even thought we would make the playoffs, so for us to force a Game 7 against a really good team like Miami.”

ZELLER AT CENTER: The Hornets plan to stick with Cody Zeller at center next season – instead of power forward – but Clifford said he still wants the 7-footer to work on his outside shot.

Doc Rivers says he doesn’t plan to break up Clippers’ core

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers leans on the scorer's table during the second half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Trail Blazers won 108-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Once again the Clippers had an impressive 53-win season where they were sixth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating — something done without Blake Griffin for large stretches of it — but it ended early in the playoffs. This time the reason was a legitimate one — Chris Paul and Griffin were lost to injuries — but the results are the same.

Is it time for a major overhaul in Los Angeles?

Not if you ask coach/GM Doc Rivers. Here is what he said on Monday, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

Those free agents Rivers likes are key bench guys: Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jeff Green. In the summer of 2017, Rivers and everyone else on the planet expects Paul and Griffin to opt out.

While the Clippers are good there is one big problem — Golden State is better and not going anywhere. They loom over the West like Everest. And that’s not to mention the Spurs will continue to be good and, depending on what happens with their key free agent, Oklahoma City is a very good team. The top of the West is stacked, and it’s hard to see the Clippers climbing out of it as currently constructed. They are in a loop where they are good but not good enough.

Changing that is not simple.

There are plenty of rumors that the Clippers will seriously listen to offers for Griffin this summer, and that they laid the groundwork for it at the deadline. But with Griffin showing some age and wanting a long max contract a year from now, how much are teams going to give up to get him if they could lose him in free agency? And will those teams want to keep him at that price in 2017? While the Clippers may be open to a deal they are a win-now team that can’t just get prospects and picks back for him, they need to get better now. That deal may not be available.

The Clippers most likely will come back with their core next season and make one more run at it, just because better options will not present themselves.

But the Clippers will be out there looking for a blockbuster.