The San Antonio Spurs thrashed the Miami Heat, 113-77, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2-1 series lead on Tuesday night.
While Miami looked lethargic and wandered aimlessly on offense, San Antonio hustled from end-to-end. The Spurs won the battle on the boards by a margin of 16, and pulled down a staggering 19 offensive rebounds.
Unlike the Heat, the Spurs thrived in the half court. San Antonio hit on 48.9 percent of their field goals and bombed away from beyond the arc en route to 16 three-pointers, a Finals record.
After ripping down eight offensive rebounds in Game 2, Kawhi Leonard hauled in three in Game 3, and 12 total rebounds in the win.
Leonard continues to make a name for himself, not only on the glass, but with stellar defense on LeBron James. For the third straight game, James failed to break through the 20-point threshold, and was limited to 15 points (on 7-of-21 shooting), 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Stabilizing the Spurs' offense for the second game in a row was Danny Green, who converted on 7-of-9 threes en route to a game-high 27 points.
However, it was combo guard Gary Neal who stole the show. Neal scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting (6-of-10 from three), leading a San Antonio bench that compiled 46 points on the night.
Tim Duncan recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds while Manu Ginobili contributed energy off the bench in the form of seven points and six assists.
Tony Parker didn't have a large impact from a scoring standpoint, but his dribble-drive opened up the floor for the Spurs time and again. Parker finished with six points and a game-high eight assists.
Miami was resilient in the first half, but fell apart when San Antonio picked up the intensity in the third quarter. The Spurs outscored the Heat by 30 over the game's final 24 minutes.
Erik Spoelstra's offense was positively lifeless. Not only did the Heat shoot a lousy 40.8 percent from the field, but Mike Miller (15 points on 5-of-5 shooting) was the only consistent shooter Miami could lean on.
Dwyane Wade (16 points, five assists and four steals) had a solid first half, but as has been the case throughout the Finals, disappeared down the stretch.
Chris Bosh finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but his struggles continued from mid-range.
Wade was the driving force behind Miami's offense early, scoring eight points and dishing out two assists, but it was San Antonio that held a four-point lead after one.
The Spurs' balanced attack saw seven players register points over the game's first 12 minutes, as Duncan led the way with six.
After the Spurs' big three combined to score just 27 points in Game 2, the trio of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili compiled 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting through one, including a fierce slam from the Argentine.
At the break, it was the Spurs who held a six-point lead. Quality three-point shooting and superior ball movement were the root cause, as the Spurs hit on 46.7 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc in the first half. And, surprise, surprise, it was Neal who led the Spurs with 14 points at the break.
The Heat hit on 57.1 percent of their first-half threes, but ball movement was sorely lacking. Miami struggled mightily to find a groove from mid-range, and were only able to muster 46 points over the game's first 24 minutes as they continually settled for jumpers.
For the second game in a row, James scored four points in the first half. LeBron's four points came on 2-of-8 shooting, but he casually added six rebounds and four assists to help his line. Fortunately, Mike Miller's nine points helped keep the Heat remain within striking distance.
Game 4 tips off at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday night from AT&T Center.
Credit Udonis Haslem with some quality post defense on Duncan early. As for Bosh, his woes from the outside continued.
San Antonio's hot start was keyed by quality looks on the interior. Five different Spurs scored at least one of the team's first seven baskets.
For the second straight game, Wade was Miami's most active offensive body early.
The Heat emphasized getting LeBron post touches, something they were incapable of doing in Games 1 and 2.
James may have had more post touches than usual, but the Spurs continued to sag off of him in order to protect the lane.
From an individual perspective, Neal's first half was one full of personal-bests.
James came on strong at the end of the third quarter, but it was all for naught.