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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.

Report: Pistons retiring Richard Hamilton’s number

AUBURN HILLS, MI - JUNE 16:  Richard Hamilton #32 celebrates after Linsey Hunter #10 of the Detroit Pistons scored in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in Game four of the 2005 NBA Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills on June 16, 2005 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Pistons defeated the Spurs 102-71.  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 Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s number last month and Chauncey Billups’ this week.

They’ll soon be joined in the Palace rafters by another from the 2004 championship team – Richard Hamilton’s No. 32.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

No date has been set but Richard Hamilton will be the next Piston from the 2004 NBA championship team to have his jersey retired, No. 32, according to a person with firsthand knowledge of the organization’s thinking.

I would’ve retired Ben’s and Billups’ number and left it at that from the 2004 team. Despite the myth of a perfectly balanced starting unit, those two were a cut above the rest – Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace.

Perhaps unfairly, Ben and Billups also get credit for exiting Detroit on better terms. They were the first starters to go, so fans don’t associate them with the team’s decline. Plus, both returned to finish their careers with the Pistons.

Hamilton, on the other hand, became whiny as a contract extension locked him into a team that didn’t win as much as he wanted (but paid him more than he was worth). It got so ugly, Detroit bought him out, eating a substantial portion of his salary.

The good far outweighed the bad, though. Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring every season between 2003 and 2010. He provided a seemingly endless supply of energy, running around screen after screen away from the ball. His scoring with then-Ron Artest guarding him during the 2004 Eastern Conference finals – a defensive slugfest at its best – was instrumental in putting Detroit over the top.

This probably opens the door for Rasheed and Prince getting their numbers retired, too.

As someone who grew up in Michigan and cheered those Pistons, I’m not at all upset with this decision. Hamilton is a reasonable choice for number retirement, as are Sheed and Prince.

I just wouldn’t done it if I were in charge.

Dwight Howard says he hasn’t asked Rockets for trade: ‘I’m not running’

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25:  Members of the Houston Rockets huddle on the court during their game against the San Antonio Spurs at the Toyota Center on December 25, 2015 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets are reportedly working with Dwight Howard‘s agent on trading the center.

Spin from the other side…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Dan Fegan, agent for Dwight Howard, issues statement to ESPN: “I’m not privy to what the Rockets are doing or not doing with respect to Dwight Howard. What I can say, with 100 percent certainty, is that Dwight has not and has never asked the Rockets for a trade. And neither have I.”

Rockets center Dwight Howard, reached Thursday by ESPN, says in reference to earlier statement from his agent Dan Fegan: “Dan’s statement is true. I have not asked the Rockets to trade me. Nor have I talked about right trades. I want to win. I want this situation to work. I chose this team. And I’m not running because we have been faced with some adversity.”

I could believe Howard hasn’t asked for a trade. I could also believe he has. Newsflash: Sometimes players and agents lie to the media.

Howard hurt his reputation with his mangled exit from the Magic and alienated many by bolting from the Lakers. It seems he doesn’t want to diminish his reputation further, which could be accomplished by not requesting a trade – or saying he’s not requesting a trade.

But the distinction matters only so much here, because the ball is in Houston’s court.

With Howard set to become a free agent, the Rockets might want to trade him before having to give him a big long-term contract. And if the Rockets want to deal him, it makes sense for both sides to work together.

Houston can get more return for Howard if he quietly pledges to re-sign with the team dealing for him. He can determine which teams he’d make that promise for and get a larger contract by getting traded and then re-signing rather than just leaving Houston to sign in the summer.

As far as Fegan saying he’s not privy to what the Rockets are doing with Howard, that’s deliberately misleading – maybe he doesn’t know their specific, exact plans – at best or negligent at worst. Who’d want an agent who didn’t know the team’s plans for the client?

Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan becomes bona fide star just in time for Toronto All-Star Game

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) celebrates scoring during his team's 101-81 win over Miami Heat during an NBA basketball game in Toronto on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – DeMar DeRozan admits he’s a terrible planner.

“Don’t ask me, are we going to go to dinner next week and what time?” the Raptors wing said. “Because I don’t know. You’ve got to ask me an hour before. … A hour before I’m hungry, I decide.”

That blind spot makes it easier for DeRozan to focus on the task at hand, especially with so much – Sunday’s All-Star game in Toronto, an opportunity for playoff redemption and a max contract in free agency – ahead of him.

DeRozan, already an All-Star and two-time 20-point-per-game scorer, is having his best season by a decent margin. His Raptors are 35-17 and looking increasingly capable of challenging the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference title many already handed Cleveland.

And it’s because DeRozan never got too comfortable with what he already accomplished nor too caught up in what he could accomplish. Calling himself the “most mellowest person,” DeRozan just tries to stay in the moment.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey credited DeRozan for working on one aspect of his game each offseason, including “just handling the ball in the post and not throwing it in the fourth row” when they first worked together. But saying DeRozan polished only one skill since last year would be selling him far too short.

DeRozan has transformed his offensive game, becoming more effective than ever.

Start with his ability to get to the basket. That had long been a strength, but DeRozan has taken it to another level this year. He ranks seconds in the NBA in drives per game (11.6):

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And third in free-throw attempts per game(8.3):

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How does someone so mellow find the aggression to play a style that generates so much contact?

“I grew up different from a lot of people,” said DeRozan, a Compton native. “I grew up in an aggressive area. I had an aggressive lifetime for a long time. I just felt like, I’ve seen a lot of stuff and did a lot of stuff at a young age that make you mellow now, but once you grow up in that aggressive nature, it’s just always going to stick with you.”

DeRozan said he found a difference balance in his life at USC, where he spent only one year, as he hilariously told teammate Kyle Lowry.

DeRozan’s one year in college helped make him the No. 9 pick in the 2009 NBA draft, but he entered the league with one glaring deficiency: outside shooting. DeRozan made just six three pointers at USC – and even fewer, four and five, his first two NBA seasons.

Still not quite to league average, DeRozan has at least become a credible threat beyond the arc this season, shooting a career-high 33.7%:

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These shots at the rim and from beyond the arc are coming at the expense of long 2s. After peaking at 36.5% three years ago and remaining a far-too-high 33.8% last year, DeRozan is taking just 24.4% of his shots between 16 feet and the 3-point arc:

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For someone who declared just last year, “I don’t care about analytics at all. I could give a hell about them,” his game has sure become more analytically friendly.

The previous two years, DeRozan had the second-lowest true shooting percentage among 20-point scorers – ahead of only Kobe Bryant last season and LaMarcus Aldridge the season prior. Now, DeRozan’s true shooting percentage (54.8) is above league average for the first time since his rookie year, which – not coincidentally – was the only time his usage percentage fell below league average.

There’s a tradeoff between volume and efficiency, and DeRozan was on the wrong end of it. He was increasing his scoring by taking more bad shots.

His improved efficiency hasn’t come with shifting the shooting burden to less-capable teammates, either. DeRozan’s usage percentage (29.7) is a career high and ranks above Carmelo Anthony‘s, Kevin Durant‘s and John Wall‘s.

The turnaround is all the more stunning considering how limited DeRozan looked as an inefficient gunner.

A whopping 74.5% of his long 2s were assisted in 2010-11. That number fell 47.5% last season, which look more ridiculous if not for the great height from which it fell. For perspective, Isaiah Thomas – another player on both the drives and free-throw attempts leaderboard – has just 34.2% of his long 2s assisted.

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Essentially, DeRozan was taking too many bad shots – and needed help getting them.

This year, DeRozan looks much more in control with the ball in his hands. Only 26.8% of his long 2s are assisted, not that he’s taking that many shots from that range, anyway.

He’s also using his greater control to dish a career-high 4.7 assists per game. Continuing the trend, it’s a substantive improvement. DeRozan isn’t throwing foolish passes in the hopes of upping his assist numbers. His turnovers remain characteristically low, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is a career best.

DeRozan has looked the part of a star the previous couple years. This season, he has produced like a star, too.

Lowry has watched the process unfold.

“It’s just being comfortable in your own skin,” Lowry said. “He doesn’t worry about what anybody says. He’s going to be comfortable in his own skin at all times.”

Lowry and DeRozan have developed a fun bond in their four seasons together, and it’s special they’ll represent the Raptors together in the Toronto All-Star game.

DeRozan was an All-Star in 2013, when the Raptors became good enough to warrant an All-Star but reserve-voting coaches still seemed bitter at Lowry, a superior player who’d clashed with his coaches when younger. Lowry got his first All-Star appearance last year, fans voting him a starter.

This year, both deserve to be there.

The next step is turning their individual success into team success. Despite holding home-court advantage the last two years, the Raptors were bounced in the first round – by the Nets in 2014 and Wizards in 2015. Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since 2001, which was also the last time it produced two All-Stars (Vince Carter and Antonio Davis).

With DeRozan playing like a true star, this could be the year the Raptors break the drought.

Individual riches for DeRozan should follow.

He reportedly and logically plans to opt out of a contract that would pay him $10,050,000 next season. The upside? A max deal projected to be worth more than $145 million over five years if he re-signs or $110 million over four years elsewhere.

DeRozan always probably could have pulled at least one max offer in what will be a player-friendly market next summer. But this improvement makes it far more likely he’ll have his pick of max options, and not just from teams as desperate as the Lakers.

Despite not looking ahead often, DeRozan says he has one plan for handling free agency: Calling Lowry.

“I’m putting it on Kyle,” DeRozan said. “I don’t know. I’m going to put in on Kyle when that day comes. So, whatever he says, that’s where I’m going to go.”

So, that means DeRozan will return to the Raptors?

“At the end of the day, I’m his friend first,” said Lowry, who spurned heavy outside interest to re-sign in 2014. “He’s going to make a decision on what’s comfortable for him, and I’m going to support everything he does – just like he did for me.”

That’s very nice, but doesn’t Lowry at least hope that process leads DeRozan back to Toronto?

“At the end of the day, I’m going to support my friend – no matter what it is,” Lowry said.

There was long reason to doubt the relative emptiness of DeRozan’s numbers. But what’s clear: The people around him believe in him.

“He hasn’t reached the ceiling of his game yet,” Casey said, “and that’s the great thing about him, because he is a worker.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo sprints from behind to reject John Wall dunk (video)

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There’s a lot to like about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Maybe his most impressive ability? How quickly he covers ground.