SAN ANTONIO -- Mike Miller continued his hot streak and tied a two-day-old NBA Finals record.
But he wasn’t the sharpshooter off the bench that drew attention at the AT&T Center.
Spurs guard Gary Neal’s 24-point night helped the Spurs take over in a 113-77 Game 3 victory, as the Spurs set an NBA Finals record and franchise playoff record for three-pointers in a game with 16.
Neal hit six of the three-pointers. Danny Green, who was cut by the Cavaliers in 2010, continued his hot streak with seven treys. The Heat continued to fail to defend the Spurs’ outside shooting in what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra a “three-point barrage.”
Green set an NBA Finals record in Game 2 on Sunday for three-pointers made without a miss when he was 5 for 5.
Miller tied it on Tuesday, going 5-5 with 15 points.
But the outcome for those accuracy records was the same: a blowout loss.
The Heat took Game 2 by 19, San Antonio took Game 3 by 36.
Neal entered the game with two minutes left in the first quarter, and immediately began firing with a three-pointer on the Spurs’ next offensive possession.
When Miller helped spark a Heat run at the end of the first half, it was Neal who answered. Miller hit two of his three-pointers in the final minutes of the second quarter, as the Heat erased a 43-32 deficit and tied the game at 44 with 37.8 left in the first half. But Neal responded with a 25-footer at the halftime buzzer, and the Spurs were in the locker room with a six-point lead.
“[Miller] is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen,” Spoelstra said. “He proved it on a big stage, but collectively we didn’t do enough to make those matter.”
Neal kept his shooting touch in the second half, adding midrange floaters to his long-range shots as the Spurs widened their lead.
Neal was another find by Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, after going undrafted out of Towson. He played in Turkey, Italy and Spain for three seasons before he was signed by the Spurs in 2010.
He bounced around in the Spurs rotation this season though, struggling in February and March as he battled tendinitis in his left Achilles’ tendon and plantar fasciitis in his left foot. It resulted in career lows in points (9.5) and three-point percentage (35.5). In the playoffs, Neal averaged 5.9 points a game before Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Neal found magic. He finished 9 of 17 from the field and 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Green joined in with six three-pointers in the second half, and the rout was on.
When Green was a rookie in Cleveland in 2009-10, he scored 40 points all season in LeBron James’ final campaign with the Cavaliers. Tuesday, he scored a game-high 27 while James was held to 15.
The Heat’s struggles to cover the whole floor have extended throughout the series, with the Spurs shooting 33 of 75 (44 percent) from three-point range. The Spurs were 16 of 32 on Tuesday.
“Every shot they wanted to get, they got,” Spoelstra said. “We did not disrupt them.”
Miller, who has had his own injury struggles throughout the season, can relate to Neal’s June emergence.
Miller has now hit his last eight three pointers after making 3 of 3 in Game 2. After Sunday’s game, he called it was the best he’s felt in five years.
Tuesday’s performance was reminiscent to Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals, when he hit seven three-pointers in a 23-point night as the Heat clinched the title against Oklahoma City.
Except this time, the Heat’s stars didn’t produce and the Spurs had plenty of backup to help their Big 3.