MIAMI — The Spurs lead the Heat 50-44 at halftime of Game 6 of the Finals, and if Miami is to prevent a championship celebration tonight on its home floor, they must find an answer from what is developing into an all-time great performance from Tim Duncan.
Duncan has been unstoppable thus far, and has 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting to go along with eight rebounds in just 19 first-half minutes. He’s scored on spinning one-handed bank shots, dunks and put-backs, and has completely dominated the proceedings over the first two periods.
Things started off just fine for the Heat, but the way they built their early lead proved to be unsustainable. LeBron James looked to get his teammates involved early, and either scored or assisted on 19 of his team’s 24 first quarter points. The Heat were getting their points from three-point distance and off of Spurs turnovers, but neither of those continued late in the second period.
Miami led by as many as seven in the second, but the team turned tentative offensively and the Spurs were able to take advantage. San Antonio ended the half on an 11-0 run, while James either settled for midrange jumpers, didn’t take them at all when the Spurs dared him to, or deferred to his teammates.
After a five-point, five-assist first quarter from James, he was just 1-of-6 from the field in the second, and Miami as a team was held to just 31.6 percent shooting, while the Spurs knocked down better than 55 percent of their shots.
The Heat will need a much more aggressive performance from James in the second half if they plan on forcing a Game 7, but if Duncan continues to play anywhere close to the way he has thus far, the Spurs will be crowned as champions before the night is through.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sits out second half Saturday with illness
CHICAGO (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remained in the locker room to start the second half of their game against the Chicago Bulls because of an illness.
Lue was on the sideline as the Cavaliers used a strong second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. He did not come out for the start of the third Saturday night, and he did not return to the game.
Lue has missed one other game this season due to illness. He is expected back on Monday when the Cavs host the struggling Bucks.
The Cavaliers went on to get the win over the Bulls Saturday, 114-109.
Another herculean performance by @KingJames, scored or assisted on 11 of CLE's final 15pts, 16th trifecta of season, 70th of career — patchwork #Cavs get by Lottery-bound Bulls, 114-109, finish roadie at 3-3; CLE, 51%FG, 13-37 3ptFG; CHI, 45%FG, 16-35 3ptFG. pic.twitter.com/sBt5mppCFF
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) —Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, Tyreke Evans added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Wayne Selden scored 16 points for Memphis by hitting 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol added 14 points as Memphis won for the first time since Jan. 29.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Denver shot just 37 percent overall and 27 percent from 3-point range.
Denver entered the night in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff race. Denver played without leading scorer Gary Harris, who is expected to miss the next few games with a right knee sprain suffered against Detroit on Thursday.
The Nuggets struggled through a miserable first half of shooting, connecting on 22 percent in the first quarter. Memphis stretched its lead to 21 early in the second quarter before Denver cut it to 53-48 at halftime.
Brooks hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and keep Memphis ahead.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) –LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.
San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.
The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.
San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.
Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.
Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.
Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.
The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).
Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.
#Pistons SVG went off on the officiating in the loss to the #Blazers: "The (Blazers) held and grabbed on every play and they got away with fouls all over the place. We got absolutely screwed all night. Luke makes a back-cut to the basket on an.. pic.twitter.com/8RhgjnOOeV
Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.