Sweet revenge: Spurs nab NBA title

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs secured their fifth NBA title in franchise history Sunday with a third straight double-digit victory against the team that dashed their dreams a season ago.

Kawhi Leonard donated 22 points and 10 rebounds, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills combined for 36 points off the bench and the Spurs ended Miami’s hopes of a three-peat with a 104-87 victory over the Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at AT&T Center.

Leonard was named Finals MVP after posting his second straight double-double and third 20-point game in a row, while Ginobili and Mills finished with 19 and 17 points, respectively, in the win.

“From our point of view, it’s satisfying because of the work that we put in all year to get back to the Finals, and have this opportunity again, and it worked out,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who became one of just five coaches in history with at least five NBA titles.

Tony Parker scored all but two of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Spurs, who had Miami on the ropes in Game 6 of last year’s Finals before Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to force overtime.

The Heat went on to win Game 6 and celebrated their second straight NBA title following a victory in Game 7, but San Antonio thwarted any thoughts of another heartbreak by dominating the final three games of the rematch.

“It’s so sweet to win a championship the way we did it. I would change nothing,” Parker said, referring to last year’s loss in the Finals. “It makes it even better the fact that we had to go through that and we had to go through a tough loss in Game 6 and Game 7, and to be able to come back. It just makes the journey even more worth it.”

With the 2014 Finals tied 1-1, the Spurs posted resounding road wins in Games 3 and 4, but fell behind by as many as 16 points in the first quarter of Sunday’s Game 5.

San Antonio survived the early Heat surge and got within seven by the end of the first before holding Miami without a field goal for nearly seven minutes midway through the second to take a 47-40 advantage into the break.

Mills provided a spark with a perfect shooting effort in the third, going 5- of-5 from the field, including 4-of-4 from long distance, as the Spurs pushed their lead to 77-58 heading into the final frame.

With their chances of extending the series dwindling, Miami failed to muster much of a threat in the fourth, as Parker poured in 14 points to keep the Heat at bay.

Tim Duncan, who’s been a part of all five of San Antonio’s title runs, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs, who set an NBA Finals record by shooting a scorching 52.8 percent from the floor in the series.

“It’s amazing to think about having done this five times,” said Duncan, who won his first NBA title in 1999 and his last in 2007. “To still be in a situation where we can win or I can win another championship is just an amazing blessing, and it’s not taken lightly.”

LeBron James supplied 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists but didn’t get much help from his supporting cast, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for just 24 points on 10-of-26 shooting.

“I just struggled a little bit offensively,” Wade admitted. “You know, I wish I could have done more, but it’s the nature of the game.”

No other Heat player had more than nine points, as Miami, which made its fourth straight Finals appearance, turned the ball over 12 times and shot just 28 percent (7-of-25) from 3-point range in the setback.

James carried the load in the early going, scoring 12 of Miami’s first 22 points as the Heat jumped out to a 16-point lead just under seven minutes in.

James finished the first frame with 17 points, six rebounds, and two blocks to help the Heat take a 29-22 lead after 12 minutes, but San Antonio surged ahead during the middle stages of the second stanza.

“We had a great first quarter,” James said. “But from that point on, they were the better team, and that’s why they’re the champions in 2014.”

The margin sat at seven, 35-28, just under five minutes in following two free throws from Wade before the Spurs turned the tide with an impressive 14-0 run.

Ginobili supplied the final eight points of the outburst, culminating in a left-handed slam in traffic that gave the Spurs a 42-35 lead with 2:46 on the clock.

James quelled the Miami field-goal drought — which lasted nearly seven minutes — with a fallaway jumper at the other end, but Ginobili buried a right wing triple to push San Antonio’s advantage to eight.

James then split two free throws and Wade added a jumper before Boris Diaw’s layup sent the Spurs into the break with a 47-40 lead.

Miami’s scoring woes continued in the third, as the Heat managed just two points over the first six-plus minutes of the quarter.

“We just weren’t able to get into our normal rhythm,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra admitted. “We’re a very good offensive team, and we weren’t able to display it in this series, so you have to credit the Spurs.”

Bosh’s bucket just over four minutes in found the visitors within 50-42, but Leonard finished a layup and Duncan hit two free throws before Mills poured in eight straight San Antonio points to push the margin to 62-44.

After James missed a fadeaway jumper on Miami’s next touch, Ginobili buried a left wing triple with James in his face to give the home team a 21-point cushion with 5:01 left in the third.

Following a timeout, Miami cut into the margin with back-to-back buckets, but Mills hit nothing but net on a straightaway trey, helping the Spurs take a 77-58 spread into the fourth.

A James dunk had Miami within 14 just over two minutes into the final frame, but Duncan and Parker each knocked down a jumper before Diaw followed a Michael Beasley slam with a 3-pointer to make it 86-67 with 8:14 to play.

With 6 1/2 minutes left and his team down 18, James was removed from the game, leaving the two-time Finals MVP as nothing more than a spectator as the Spurs cruised to their fifth NBA title.


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