San Antonio Spurs beat Miami Heat to win fifth NBA title
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 104-87 on Sunday to capture their fifth NBA championship and spoil the Heat's chances of winning a third straight title
San Antonio: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 104-87 on Sunday to capture their fifth NBA championship and spoil the Heat's chances of winning a third straight title.
The top seed Spurs throttled the two-time defending champs in the final three games to take the best-of-seven NBA finals four games to one.
San Antonio, who also won titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, suffered heartbreak last year in a seven-game loss to Miami.
San Antonio Spurs team lift their NBA title. Pic/ AFP
They became the first team to win the NBA finals after losing a game seven in the finals the year before since the Detroit Pistons did it in the 1988-89 season.
The Spurs lost the final two games of the 2013 finals after being up 3-2. They led with 28 seconds to go in game six last year but let the game slip through their fingers.
"Last year's loss was devastating," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
"A day didn't go by where I didn't think about game six.
"So I think in general for the group to have the fortitude that they showed to get back to this spot speaks volumes about what kind of fibre they have."
Popovich claimed his fifth ring and now trails just Phil Jackson (11) and Red Auerbach (nine) for the most in history. Pat Riley and John Kundla also have five titles.
Rising San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs in scoring in the final three blowout wins and was named Most Valuable Player of the finals.
Leonard scored 22 points in game five and finished with 10 rebounds in front of a standing-room only crowd of 18,581 at the AT&T Center arena.
The Spurs shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first quarter and trailed by 16 at one stage before turning it around in the second quarter to take a 47-40 lead into halftime.
Argentina's Manu Ginobili and Australian Patty Mills came off the bench to score 19 and 17 points respectively for the Spurs, whose bruised egos wouldn't let them forget last year's loss to the Heat.
LeBron James tallied a game high 31 points and had 10 rebounds while Chris Bosh scored 13 points for the Heat, who were competing in the finals for the fourth straight year.
- 'Tip your hat to that team' -
"It's just, it's just frustrating to be in a series like this and have the last three games, particularly coming out of the first two games," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "But you have to tip your hat to that team. They played exquisite basketball this series and in particular these last three games.
"They are the better team. They played great and we couldn't respond to it."
The Spurs' big three of Tony Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan have now won four titles together.
Duncan also joined John Salley as the only players to win titles in three decades and is also the first player to win championships 15 years apart with the same team.
James put on a clinic in the first quarter, scoring 17 points on five-of-seven shooting from the field as the Heat started strong in their bid to fend off elimination.
He made two-of-three three-point attempts and sank all five of his free throws. He also had six rebounds and two blocks.
The Spurs shot just 28 percent in the first, a far cry from the 76 percent they shot in the first half of game three.
Miami opened the game on an 8-0 run as they were determined to avoid the sluggish starts that have plagued them all series.
San Antonio answered with a 12-0 surge over a two minute stretch that cut the Heat lead to 22-18 with just under three minutes left in the first.
Leonard hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to cap the scoring and allow San Antonio to get within seven at the end of the first.
But just as the first quarter was dominated by Miami, the second belonged to the Spurs, who outscored the Heat 25-11 to take control of the contest.
Ginobili's high-flying dunk late in the second quarter capped a 14-0 burst by San Antonio. Ginobili tucked the ball under his arm and brushed off Heat defender Ray Allen like he was swatting a fly before slamming it home left handed.
Boris Diaw missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer as the Spurs took a seven-point lead into the break.
Mills paced the attack in the third with 14 points as the Spurs blew the game open by scoring 30 points in the quarter.