Spurs sprint past Heat in Game 3
MIAMI — Kawhi Leonard’s career-playoff-high 29 points helped the San Antonio Spurs roll to a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena, giving the Spurs a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Leonard, a forward, made 10 of 13 shots from the floor, including going 3-for-6 on three-pointers, and added 6 of 7 free throws.
Forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 22 points each.
Still, the night belonged to the Spurs’ shooters and — perhaps — dubious defense from the two-time defending NBA champion Heat, especially in a brutal first half.
San Antonio snapped the Heat’s franchise record of 11 straight home playoff wins, including eight this season.
Game 4 is set for Thursday night in Miami.
San Antonio is just 4-5 on the road in this year’s postseason. However, the Spurs are also the last team to beat the Heat in Miami in a playoff game. That happened last year in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
San Antonio played a nearly perfect first quarter, leading 41-25 after shooting 86.7 percent over the first 12 minutes.
Leonard, who averaged 14.6 points in last year’s NBA Finals but got just nine points in each of this year’s first two games, had a breakthrough in the first quarter. He scored 16 points on perfect shooting — 5-for-5 from the floor, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, and 3-for-3 on free throws.
James also had a big first quarter for the Heat, who shot 52.6 percent. James had 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 2-for-2 on 3-pointers.
But the Spurs, who also scored 41 points in the second quarter of Game 2 versus Portland to match their best period of the postseason, finished the first in style. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key, banking in the shot.
The Spurs stretched their lead to 25 points early in the second quarter. Miami finally made a run, cutting its deficit to 14. San Antonio closed out the half well, taking a 71-50 lead into the break.
San Antonio shot 75.8 percent for the first half, which set an NBA Finals record for the opening two quarters. The Spurs also became the first team since the 1987 Lakers to score at least 70 points in a half in a playoff game.
It was also the largest halftime lead by a road team in an NBA Finals game since 1996. The Spurs went 10:15 of clock time without missing a shot, bridging the first and second quarters.
Miami shot 55.6 percent for the first half, but still trailed by 21 points.
- There was one change in the starting lineup from the first two games of the series — Spurs F Boris Diaw started Tuesday in place of C Tiago Splitter. It was Diaw’s first playoff start this season.
- Entering Tuesday, 6-11 F Chris Bosh led the Heat with 29 3-pointers made in this year’s playoffs. In the two games in San Antonio, he averaged 18.0 points on 59.1-percent shooting, including 4-for-6 on 3-pointers.
- In two games in San Antonio, the Heat were plus-11 with James on the floor versus the Spurs. In 26 minutes without James, the Heat were minus-24.