San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs pounce on weary Miami Heat in fourth quarter of Game 1

 
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The Miami Heat's Chris Bosh and LeBron James try to defend San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the second quarter in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
The Miami Heat's Chris Bosh and LeBron James try to defend San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the second quarter in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
CHARLES TRAINOR JR / STAFF PHOTO

Special to the Miami Herald

The Spurs prepared for this moment from the opening day of training camp.

They finished with the best record in the league, and were tested every step of the way in the Western Conference playoffs en route to the NBA Finals.

They jumped to a 1-0 series lead against the Heat on Thursday at at a steamy AT&T Center, primarily behind the play of their two oldest players, 38-year-old Tim Duncan and 36-year-old Manu Ginobili.

Duncan scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds, while Ginobili redeemed himself after a miserable Finals against the Heat a year ago with 16 points and 11 assists in a 110-95 victory.

They had help. With LeBron James on the bench with leg cramps form the heat in the arena caused by a broken air-conditioning system, Danny Green came alive late as did Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs pulled away late.

They overcame 23 turnovers to win their sixth NBA Finals opener in six tries.

It was Ginobili who gave the Spurs an early push with his long-range marksmanship.

He hit two of his three three-pointers in transition on his way to a productive first quarter in which he collected nine points, three assists and two steals.

Gone for Ginobili, it seemed, were the ghosts from last season’s NBA finals, when the shooting guard from Argentina had one of the worst playoff series of his pro career.

He committed eight turnovers in the Game 6 defeat at Miami and four more in Game 7. He had no turnovers Thursday night.

His three-pointer put the Spurs ahead 21-19 with 2:49 left in the first quarter, sending the Spurs on their way to a six-point lead after the first 12 minutes.

But it was Duncan who led all first-half scorers with 15 points. He hit 6 of 7 field goal attempts, providing a nice “inside” complement to Ginobili’s “outside.”

Eight of Duncan’s points came in the second period, including five in the final three minutes to help the Spurs to a 54-49 lead at intermission.

The Spurs shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, both from two-point territory (11 of 22) and three-point range (7 of 14).

Parker, nursing a sore ankle, added 10 points to give the Spurs three in double figures by halftime.

But Duncan and Ginobili could do nothing to prevent the Spurs third-quarter slide, however.

The Spurs committed nine turnovers in the period and watched as Miami turned a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead.

The Heat went up 78-72 on a James three-pointer. Tiago Splitter’s layup closed the gap to 78-74.

A foul by Duncan on a Chris Bosh three led to a four-point play.

Suddenly, it was 86-79 Miami with 9:38 to go in the third, their largest lead of the night to that point.

Duncan helped bring the Spurs back, scoring on a pretty assist from Parker after a Parker floater made it 86-84.

That’s when James — complaining of cramping — left the game. He did not return.

Green, who set an NBA Finals record for three-pointers last season against the Heat, caught fire after going 0 of 5 to start the game.

He hit two three-pointers and a dunk to give the Spurs a 94-90 lead.

James returned to the game briefly but went off again at the 3:59 mark, limping badly.

Green hit another three to make it 97-92. Diaw followed with a layup to push the lead to seven.

Ginobili acted as the playmaker, dishing out his ninth and 10 consecutive threes by Leonard and Parker — off a feed by Duncan — gave the Spurs their largest lead at 105-95 and sealed Miami’s fate.

The Spurs ended the game on a 31-9 run.

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