The Heat beat the Spurs 98-96 Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, and the verdict wasn’t complicated.
With 6:43 left in the game, the Spurs led 87-85 and over the next 10 seconds got four foul shots. Great foul shooting would have given San Antonio a six-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left. Good foul shooting would have given San Antonio a five-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left. Mediocre foul shooting would have given San Antonio a four-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left. Terrible foul shooting would have given San Antonio a three-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left.
But Tony Parker missed both his foul shots with 6:43 left, Tim Duncan missed both his at 6:34 and with 6:09 left LeBron James nailed a 3-pointer. The Heat led 88-87.
A five- or six-point lead would not have guaranteed the Spurs victory. But it would have put San Antonio in command. The Spurs are great at game management.
Instead, in the space of 30 seconds, the Spurs went from in command to trailing.
The Spurs made just 12 of 20 foul shots. The Heat made 16 of 21. That’s the ballgame.
* The four-foul shot spree was set up by a flagrant foul against Miami’s Mario Chalmers, who was called for elbowing Parker. It was a good call. Parker didn’t flop. But what’s the word for excessive acting after the fall? Parker acted like he had been shot. He got popped in the ribs, not the family jewels.
* The Birdman played 24 minutes for Miami. Expect that to continue. In the 22:48 that Birdman and Tim Duncan shared the court, Duncan made two of three shots, two of three foul shots, scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and committed two turnovers. In the 15:08 that Duncan played without the Birdman on the court, Duncan made five of 11 shots, two of three foul shots, scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and committed one turnover.
* Duncan and Parker were a combined 1-of-3 shooting in the fourth quarter. After the foul shot disaster, the Spurs scored six points in 6 1/2 minutes. Manu Ginobili’s 3-pointer at the buzzer made things look a little better, but with the game on the line, San Antonio’s possessions were not good.
Nine possessions, two scores, both 3-pointers. Boris Diaw hit a corner 3-pointer to tie the game 90-90 with 4:40 left and Parker hit a 3-pointer with 2:26 left give the Spurs a 93-92 lead. Two-of-eight shooting, one turnover, no offensive rebounds. Five of the eight shots were 3-pointers. Two of the other shots were outside jumpers. Only one inside shot, a wild drive by Danny Green.
Miami’s defense won this game in the final six minutes, after San Antonio’s foul shooting gave Miami’s defense a chance to win it.
* Before the series, it was clear that the Spurs had virtually every advantage except one. A big one. A Chosen One.
LeBron was phenomenal, with 35 points on 14-of-22 shooting, with 10 rebounds. LeBron scored eight points in 52 seconds of the third quarter, turning a 62-56 deficit into a 64-62 lead. Then he scored on back-to-back possessions a minute later. All on outside jumpers. That’s 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in a span of 134 seconds.
* The Spurs say their offense stagnated. Here’s why. San Antonio made just seven of 23 shots inside the 3-point circle but outside the paint. San Antonio was decent from the paint (17 of 33) and good from 3-point range (12 of 26). But the Spurs were awful on mid-range shots. Miami made seven of 18 mid-range shots. Three-point shots are quality. Shots from the paint are quality. Shots in between usually are not.