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NBA Finals Game 5: Ginobili, Green hit every shot it seems, Spurs win 114-104

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SAN ANTONIO — All season long, when the Heat would crank up their defense and make a run, other teams wilted.

San Antonio stood up the the runs, executed, hit open shots and a lot of tough ones, and won 114-104 to take a 3-2 series lead. San Antonio will have two chances on the Heat’s home court to win one game and get a fifth banner for the AT&T Center.

Tony Parker had 26 points on 14 shots, Manu Ginobili started the game and came back to life with 24, and Danny Green also had 24 including six threes. Green is now the all-time three point leader for the NBA finals.

Game 6 is Tuesday night.

END OF FOURTH QUARTER: 114-104 Spurs win, they take a 3-2 series lead back to Miami. They can win one there, they couldn’t have done two.

:10 Fourth Quarter: Spurs fans mock the Heat fans a little with a Seven Nations Army chant.

1:06 Fourth Quarter: Heat got the lead down to single digits but a big driving layup from Tony Parker and another Green three and it is 114-101 Spurs. That three was your dagger.

2:32 Fourth Quarter: Heat make a run to cut the lead down to 11, really pressuring on defense, but Spurs still hitting tough shots. 109-98 Spurs. (Sorry for the slow updates, some serious wifi issues here, lost a couple updates because of it.)

5:18 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker gets M-V-P chants at the free throw line. Spurs lead still 15.

6:24 Fourth Quarter: Much more active Heat defense, but that can’t stop the Duncan bank and the Manu fadeaway. 102-87 Spurs.

7:23 Fourth Quarter: Chris Bosh dunks and cuts the Spurs’ lead to 13. Pop calls a timeout because there is a whole lot of game left.

8:07 Fourth Quarter: Danny Green driving layup puts lead up to 18, but a Heat three makes it 15.

9:31 Fourth Quarter: No mascot does more costume changes than the Spurs Coyote. I’m not sure Quick Change does this many costume changes.

9:31 Fourth Quarter: Spurs are just executing at both ends brilliantly. 19 point lead and another blowout.

10:31 Fourth Quarter: Haslem is -20 in this game, why not try Birdman in that role? Meanwhile the Spurs just keep executing and have a 17-point lead.

10:31 Fourth Quarter: The commitment to going small by the Heat has meant no Birdman to protect the rim, they are paying a price for that tonight.

10:45 Fourth Quarter: Spurs defense has Heat settling in the midrange again. And they continue to miss. San Antonio just outplaying Heat everywhere. 89-75 Spurs.

END OF THE THIRD QUARTER: All season long the Heat have went on runs and just melted the opponent away. The Spurs do not go away and are standing tough. Heat resorting to a lot of isolation ball.

END OF THE THIRD QUARTER: San Antonio went on 12-1 run to end the quarter, not coincidentally they stopped turning the ball over.

END OF THE THIRD QUARTER: 87-75 Spurs, Manu Ginobili just torched Norris Cole again.

1:01 Third Quarter: Tiago Splitter reverse layup makes it an 11 point Spurs lead.

2:21 Third Quarter: Manu Ginobili with the and-1 on Ray Allen. The Spurs are playing good defense and after another Manu bucket it is 83-74 Spurs.

3:01 Third Quarter: It’s a one-point game on an interesting and-1 Wade hit a midrange and somehow Ginobili got called for a foul when Battier set an illegal screen on him. Green answered with a three 78-74 Spurs.

3:53 Third Quarter: It just feels like there is one more big Heat run left and the question is will the Spurs stand up to it like they have the others?

4:35 Third Quarter: LeBron settles for a three, Tony Parker takes the outlet and goes coast to coast for a layup. 75-69 Spurs.

5:09 Third Quarter: LeBron now blocked on a transition bucket by Danny Green, the Heat are getting the turnovers and shots they want, but not converting. That may well haunt them. 73-67 Spurs.

7:11 Third Quarter: Chalmers picks up his fourth foul. Heat are just losing guys on defense and the Spurs exploit that stuff. Plus Wade just missed a transition layup.

7:47 Third Quarter: Chalmers hits a three, 70-65 Spurs.

9:02 Third Quarter: Danny Green is human, he missed a wide open one.

9:39 Third Quarter: With that 23rd three of this series, Danny Green now holds the NBA Finals record. Early in the third quarter of Game 5. Ridiculous.

9:39 Third Quarter: LeBron and Wade try to close out on a Danny Green three. It doesn’t matter. Green is money. 66-59 Spurs.

10:55 Third Quarter: Heat open second half with LeBron three, LeBron steal leads to Chalmers three, Mike Miller steal to LeBron for foul in transition and suddenly it is 61-59 Spurs. And we have a game.

HALFTIME: Miami Heat shoot 10-15 in the restricted area, 3-14 from the midrange, 4-10 from three. The Spurs were just hot from everywhere.

HALFTIME: Heat shooting 42.2 percent, take LeBron out of that equation and it drops to 38.2 percent. LeBron James has 16 points, Dwyane Wade has 14, Chris Bosh 10.

HALFTIME: Spurs shoot 61.8 percent for the half. Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard have 13 points each, Tony Parker 11, Manu Ginobili 11 and 6 assits.

HALFTIME: 61-52 Spurs. Half ends with Tony Parker attacking off the dribble, getting all the way to the rim with nobody contesting him. Fitting.

1:15 Second Quarter: Duncan didn’t get a call when he was fouled, LeBron didn’t get a call when he was fouled. Things even out like that. Shane Battier just made a stupid foul on Ginobili (Manu sold that a little but there was contact when there shouldn’t have been). 57-47 Spurs.

2:14 Second Quarter: Teams kind of trading buckets for a stretch, but Spurs ran horns then got LeBron on the block against Green. LeBron winst that matchup. 52-47 Spurs.

3:24 Second Quarter: Heat made this little run with a point guard-less lineup. Wade and LeBron the ball handlers. LeBron on Parker 49-42 Spurs.

5:08 Second Quarter: Parker fouls Ray Allen on a made three. Four point play makes it 47-40 Spurs, crowd getting restless here.

5:45 Second Quarter: According to scouting service Synergy sports, Danny Green is making 74% of his catch-and-shoot 3s in the finals.

5:45 Second Quarter: The music played in the two arenas is dramatically different, let’s say. Haven’t heard Def Leopard at a game in a long time… didn’t miss it either.

5:45 Second Quarter: Quick 6-0 Heat run and it is 47-36 Spurs and Pop calls a timeout. Key play was a Bosh block on Dunan.

6:41 Second Quarter: Danny Green’s last three tied the record of 22 made threes in a Finals series. That was a beauty, a catch-and-release right over Ray Allen (ironically). 47-30 Spurs.

7:30 Second Quarter: Heat trying to drive and dish out for open looks, but that only works if you hit them. The Heat are not, Spurs are packing the paint.

7:30 Second Quarter: Another Danny Green three and it is 42-26 Spurs. That is 16 points for those of you not good at math.

8:35 Second Quarter: Great Spurs ball movement to a Danny Green three. 39-24 Spurs

8:59 Second Quarter: Live Mariachi band music between quarters… and they are dang good.

8:59 Second Quarter: Spurs doing it with balance — Duncan, Parker, Ginobili all with 7, Leonard with 9.

9:38 Second Quarter: Spurs are very active on defense, sticking with the shooters at the arc but cutting off driving lanes. Best game they have played this series so far. 36-22 Spurs.

11:05 Second Quarter: Tiago Splitter with a dunk at one end, then a block at the other. Then he fumbled one out of bounds. 34-22 Spurs.

START OF SECOND QUARTER: Looking at the shot chart, Miami took seven midrange shots in the first quarter, hit one of them.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Spurs hit 12-of-19 in the first quarter, the Heat just 6-of-20. You can measure the Heat by how good their defense on any given night, and the Spurs are destroying them.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: A Kawhi Leonard three makes it 32-19 after one.

1:01 First Quarter: Borris Diaw with the offensive rebound — he beat Chalmers to a loose ball — and a dish to Leonard for the dunk makes it a 12-point Spurs lead. So much for weathering the storm, Miami.

2:29 First Quarter: Spurs on 10-0 run, and 8 of that is Tony Parker just attacking Norris Cole. Spurs also packing paint and Heat settling. 27-17 Spurs.

3:17 First Quarter: Last three Spurs possessions Parker just attacked. Last two LeBron possessions he settled for pullups. 23-17 Spurs.

3:46 First Quarter: Heat open shooting 5-of-13. They are getting points by attacking and fouls but not shooting well. Spurs 8-of-14 to start.

3:46 First Quarter: Parker just blows by Cole again — and there is no help rotations behind Cole, either. 21-17 Spurs.

4:09 First Quarter: Norris Cole comes in and just gets his ankles broken by Tony Parker, then bricks a three. 19-17 Spurs.

4:40 First Quarter: Heat offensive rebound leads to a LeBron three and we are tied 17-17.

5:56 First Quarter: Danny Green in for Ginobili. Great start for a guy who struggled in the playoffs.

6:43 First Quarter: After review Ginobili’s first three, it is a two, he was on the line. 15-12 Spurs.

6:43 First Quarter: This small ball is so much fun to watch — fast paced, guys attacking and others knocking down three. Why does everybody think this is a fad again? You can win this way if you have talent.

6:43 First Quarter: If you’re the Heat, you say that you have withstood the the Spurs initial charge and are only down 16-12 midway through the first.

7:11 First Quarter: That Popovich guy is smart, another Manu three. 16-10 Spurs.

8:54 First Quarter: Ginobili with five points and three assits so far, 13-8 Spurs.

9:57 First Quarter: After a pair of Ginobili free throws, LeBron got the ball and just put his head down and drove the lane. He’s motivated. But then he blew a dunk in transition. 9-6 Spurs.

10:45 First Quarter: Duncan with a nice dunk. Wade has all Miami’s points 7-4 Spurs.

11:36 First Quarter: Ginobili opens the game with a three over Leonard. That might get him going.

12:00 First Quarter: Mike Miller has a pregame ritual of jumping up and grabbing the rim in a dunk like motion where he pulls himself up. Probably will not see that during the game.

12:00 First Quarter: Crowd just goes nuts for Ginobili.

12:00 First Quarter: Darius Rucker — Hootie himself — sings the national anthem. Pretty good version.

12:00 First Quarter: When you hang out in San Antonio and walk around for a week, what you see are more Ginobili 20 jerseys than anything. More than Parker, more than Duncan, more than anyone. This city loves Manu.

12:00 First Quarter: Shirt for the night here in San Antonio is a black shirt with a big Spur on it.

12:00 First Quarter: It’s official, Manu Ginobili will start for the Spurs. Gregg Popovich had said the Spurs were concerned about the Heat’s small ball lineup, looks like this is his answer.

12:00 First Quarter: This is not official, but according to the stats monitors in house here Manu Ginobili is starting for the Spurs tonight. We will see.

12:00 First Quarter: We are still waiting on word of the Spurs starting lineup for tonight and if they change it up to match the Heat, who will again start Mike Miller over Udonis Haslem.

SAN ANTONIO — Welcome to the PBT Live Blog for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The series is 2-2 and it just feels like the winner of this game is going to take the whole thing. 

First — happy Father’s Day to all my fellow dads out there. Give your kids a hug, then grab the adult beverage of your choice and settle in for what should be a great Game 5. I’m Kurt, your host, and I’m going to be updating you throughout on the score, strategy, what is going on here in the arena and making some snide remarks. Let’s have some fun.

John Stockton working with Bucks point guards at training camp

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 30:  John Stockton #12 of the Utah Jazz dribbles in Game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sacramento Kings during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at Arco Arena on April 30, 2003 in Sacramento, California.  The Kings won 111-91.  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: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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The Bucks are coached by one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd. But Kidd invited another legend of the position to camp to work with his point guards. John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, was at Bucks practice on Thursday working with Michael Carter-Williams, Matthew Dellavedova and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Not a bad person to learn from, especially since the Bucks have one of the weakest point-guard positions in the league.

Blake Griffin says he’s working on improving his three-point shot

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots a jumper over Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a 100-99 loss to the Thunder at Staples Center on December 21, 2015 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 condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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2016-17 is going to be a big year for Blake Griffin. He missed much of last season with a quad injury and a broken hand stemming from a punching incident, and he has the ability to opt out of his contract next summer. When Griffin was healthy, he was his usual All-Star self for the Clippers, but he played just 35 games. He’s healthy now, at the start of training camp, and he says he wants to improve his three-point shot.

From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

“I want to be someone who shoots from there confidently, for sure,” Griffin said after Thursday’s practice at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center. “A lot of us power forwards, our strength is inside or our versatility. You look at the best power forwards, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus (Aldridge), Draymond (Green) … they can all shoot but they can all put the ball on the floor and they can all score inside. I don’t necessarily think falling in love with the 3-point shot is a good idea, but shooting it confidently from there is great.”

Not only has Griffin not hit his threes in his career (his overall mark from beyond the arc is an awful 27.1 percent) but he doesn’t take very many of them. The most threes he’s ever shot in a season is 44 in 2013-14, and he hit 12 of them. Griffin is only 27, so he’s theoretically not done improving as a player, but it’s hard to imagine a dramatic jump this far along when that hasn’t been a part of his game at all to this point.

 

Steve Kerr endorses shorter preseason to limit back-to-backs

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to members of the media after being defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, 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 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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There are too many preseason games. The NBA has its reasons for playing them — namely, to allow for games in non-NBA markets — and sometimes they can be valuable for teams to experiment with rotations. But most teams play seven or eight preseason games, which is unnecessary. Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Connor Letourneau:

“I kind of like the idea that’s been tossed around the last couple summers to start the regular season a little earlier, maybe a week early,” Kerr said Thursday afternoon after Warriors practice. “Play five exhibition games instead of eight. I kind of like that, just so you have fewer back-to-backs in the regular season.”

The NBA has floated the idea in the past of cutting the number of preseason games in order to stretch out the regular season, thereby lessening the burden of travel and back-to-backs. The NBA has made an effort this season to cut down on back-to-backs, and this would be a logical way to do that.

Hornets’ Batum won’t let big contract affect how he plays

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 20: Nicolas Batum #5 of the Charlotte Hornets drives on Joe Johnson #2 of the Miami Heat  during game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 20, 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) Nicolas Batum said he isn’t planning to alter how he plays the game after signing a five-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

And that’s just fine with coach Steve Clifford.

Clifford said Batum doesn’t need to put additional pressure on himself to score just because he’s now the highest-paid player in Hornets history. He told him to play how he plays.

“You don’t change the nature of how you play. I think guys get messed up with that,” Clifford said. “… I don’t think you try to reinvent yourself because the money changed. We gave him the money because he played so well. In my opinion he was an All-Star-caliber player last season when healthy.”

Batum was acquired in a trade with Portland before last season and turned out to be a gem for Charlotte, which won 48 games and tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 5.6 assists while becoming one of the team’s top three go-to options.

Batum said he’s learned from experience that it’s not worth putting pressure on himself just because he signed a big contract.

He did in that 2012 after inking a four-year, $46 million deal to remain with the Portland Trail Blazers. While he still played well, he said it was pointless.

“I was a young guy at the time and I didn’t know what to expect,” Batum said. “Now I know. I know what I have to go through right now. I know what the views of the media and the public will be. I know that, and I’m good with it.”

For Batum, pressure no longer enters the equation because the Hornets trust him and believe in him.

“It’s more relief than pressure,” Batum said.

The Hornets made re-signing him their No. 1 priority, offering the Frenchman a huge deal about an hour into the free-agency signing period. Batum also received several offers from other teams shortly after the deadline, which he called flattering.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Batum enters the season as Charlotte’s best all-around player and a favorite among teammates.

“Guys are so much more comfortable when he’s out there on the floor because he makes it so much easier at both ends,” forward Marvin Williams said.

Williams said there’s a naturalness to Batum’s game, and he’s incredibly unselfish – he’s always looking for the better shot option.

“He likes to make the assist, and he likes to get everyone involved,” Williams said. “I think that is why so many people like playing with him. It’s why I love playing with him.”

And why Clifford views him as irreplaceable.

When Batum went down in the second half of last season with an ankle injury, the Hornets struggled to find their rhythm.

“He’s not a numbers guy to me,” Clifford said. “People can say, `Well, he’s making this or he’s making that (much money),’ but if he plays at the level he played at last year when he was healthy, we have a chance to be a really good team.”

The Hornets continue to work on 5-on-5 scrimmages extensively during practice as Clifford gets a feel for his team.

But there were several key players missing on Thursday.

Point guard Kemba Walker (knee) and center Cody Zeller (knee) remained out of practice while rehabbing from injuries. Guard Jeremy Lamb did not practice after stepping on a basketball and twisting his ankle, while Brian Roberts was held out after injuring his hamstring when he slipped on some water on the court. Clifford said he hopes to have Lamb and Roberts back in a few days.