Spurs race out to big lead, hold off Heat in Game 3
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defend Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6), during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball finals, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) drives to the basket over Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) and guard Mario Chalmers (15), during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball finals, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
MIAMI – Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 29 points, and the San Antonio Spurs made an NBA Finals-record 75.8 percent of their shots in the first half in a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat last night that gave them a 2-1 series lead.
The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots and finished 25-of-33 in the first half, bettering the 75 percent shooting by Orlando against the Lakers in the 2009 finals.
Leonard finished 10-of-13 after two quiet games in San Antonio. Danny Green and Tony Parker each had 15 points and Tim Duncan scored 14.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had 22 points for the Heat, who host Game 4 tomorrow.
Returning to the arena where they were oh-so-close to winning a fifth championship last year, the Spurs came out playing like they were trying to build a lead that was impossible to blow.
They shot 13-of-15 in building a 41-25 lead after one, then hit their first six shots in front of a stunned crowd in Miami while going ahead by as much as 25.
Leonard scored only 18 points in the first two games, looking frustrated while getting into foul trouble trying to defend James in Game 2. But he had his outside shot working early, and the effect on the Spurs’ offense was obvious.
The NBA Finals were back along the shores of Biscayne Bay for the fourth straight year, as much a part of the late-spring scene in Miami as beaches and boats. The last three NBA seasons ended right in this building, the last two followed by championship parades.
The local fans were being forced to watch a clinic by the Spurs, who closed the first half with a 9-2 burst after Miami tried to get back into it by closing to a 14-point deficit.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said he would keep communicating with James in Game 2 to make sure there were no lingering problems from the cramps that forced him to miss the final minutes of the opener.
But there was no way he could rest James early because James was the only one keeping the Heat in the game. He had 14 of their first 20 points, but even James couldn’t keep up with the Spurs’ pace.