SAN ANTONIO — This has been a very even NBA Finals, outside the final five minutes of Game 1.
Game two has played out that way — San Antonio raced out to an 11 point lead early in the second quarter behind Tim Duncan getting shots at the rim, but the Heat came back as LeBron James attacked the rim himself.
The result is a 43-43 tie at halftime of Game 2.
Tony Parker has 12 points to lead the Spurs. LeBron had 13 points, Chris Bosh 10 for the Heat.
Early on the Spurs were sharp with their interior passing, they seemed unbothered by the Heat pressure, and the ball kept finding Tim Duncan. He was throwing down dunks, and once again getting his shots in the paint.
LeBron James started 1-of-4 shooting with a couple turnovers and came out with more than two minutes left in the first (early for him). With him out the Spurs stretched out their lead (thanks to Heat turnovers, they had 10 in the first half) and it was 26-19 after one quarter.
When LeBron came back in he was aggressive and just attacked the rim — 9 of his 11 first half shots came inside 8 feet. The Spurs continue to play up on him, not going under picks but trying to pressure him.
The game got a bit physical and chippy — it started to really feel like a playoff series — and the referees did a poor job trying to control it. They gave Duncan a technical, and Manu Ginobili picked up his third foul on a flop by Dwyane Wade that should earn a fine.
The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.
But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.
Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:
Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.
The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.
The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.
(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)
The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.
But it should have counted.
With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.
Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.
Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.
Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.
The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.
The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:
“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery. We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”
Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.
The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.
Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.
Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:
Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.
That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.
The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.