Spurs lead Heat 61-52 at halftime of Finals Game 5

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SAN ANTONIO — We’ve got another good one here in San Antonio, where the Spurs came out with aggression and were able to contain a late run from the heat to take a 61-52 lead into halftime of Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made a change to their starting lineup in this one, inserting Manu Ginobili in favor of the previously ineffective Tiago Splitter. The move paid immediate dividends, as Ginobili set the tone with his aggression and had seven points and three assists in the game’s first five and a half minutes.

Once he took a seat on the bench, Tony Parker got San Antonio out to a big lead by attacking the paint time and again, particularly against Norris Cole, and getting to the rim for easy scores or trips to the free throw line.

Miami largely was settling for jumpers early on, and that was due to the Spurs packing the paint and making the right rotations defensively. That helped the Spurs end the first quarter on a 15-2 run to take control of the game.

San Antonio extended its lead to as many as 17 points in the second, before the Heat began to climb back into it. A 12-0 run in a two-minute span showcased what the Heat do best, which is getting out in transition and swinging the ball to the open shooters in the halfcourt sets. LeBron James started getting into the post and scoring inside, and the run was highlighted by a monster dunk on the break from James, and a four-point play from Ray Allen.

The half ended with a drive from Parker right down the middle of the lane for a reverse lay-in right before the buzzer.

Th Spurs are getting balanced scoring from everyone, with four starters in double figures and Kawhi Leonard one point shy of joining the club. For the Heat, it’s LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh doing the bulk of the damage, with the team doing its best work in this game once Erik Spoelstra held both of his point guards out of the lineup at the same time.

Miami’s Big Three finished the half with 40 of the team’s 52 points, and you get the feeling that a special performance from LeBron or Wade — or possibly both — is going to be required for the Heat to end up pulling this one out.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.