Spurs win NBA title with 104-87 victory over Heat
SAN ANTONIO - There was no monumental collapse by the San Antonio Spurs, and there will be no three-peat for LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
The Spurs proved they are the best team in the NBA this season -- emphasis on team. They used the sting of melting down in the NBA Finals last year as their motivation and dethroned the two-time champion Heat with another utterly dominating performance and head-shaking shooting display Sunday night.
The Spurs captured the fifth championship in franchise history (and first since 2007) by closing out the Heat, 104-87, in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series Sunday night at AT&T Center. Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich have been a part of all five championships in the last 16 seasons.
"It's the sweetest one," four-time champ Tony Parker said. "It's just unbelievable to win seven years ago and to be so close last year. It was very cruel, but that's the beauty of sport."
Duncan, who won his first title in 1999 against the Knicks, became the second player in NBA history to win championships in three different decades (John Salley was the other).
Third-year forward Kawhi Leonard, 22, scored 22 points in Game 5 and was named series MVP. He became the youngest player to be named Finals MVP since Duncan, then 23, got that honor in 1999.
Manu Ginobili had 19 points. Patty Mills scored 14 of his 17 in the third quarter, when he shot 5-for-5 overall and 4-for-4 from three-point range. Parker had 16 points and Duncan added 14.
James had 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots, but Miami's other four starters totaled only 32 points. Dwyane Wade shot 4-for-12 and scored 11 points.
James, who has reached four NBA Finals and won two championships in four seasons since teaming up with Wade and Chris Bosh, can opt out of his contract later this month.
"I haven't really thought about that just yet," James said. "I'm not disappointed in my teammates. I just wish we would have come through and played a better series, but obviously we ran into a better team this year."
James entered the game hoping Miami could make history and become the first team in Finals history to win the title after trailing 3-1 (31 teams had fallen short). "Why not us?" he said. Then the Heat and Spurs answered that question together.
The Spurs used last year's meltdown in Game 6 of the Finals, when they had the title within reach and blew a lead in the closing seconds, as their motivation for this season. This time around, they didn't want to give the Heat any life in Game 5.
"Last year's loss was devastating," Popovich said. "A day didn't go by that I didn't think about Game 6. For the group to have the fortitude to get back to this spot speaks volumes about how they're constituted.''
The Spurs, who outscored the Heat 98-65 in the final 40:48 and shot 36-for-66 in that span, won the last three games of the series by a total of 57 points. "They played exquisite basketball this series and the last three games," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They're the better team. There's no other way to say it."
James scored 12 of his 17 first-quarter points to help the Heat take a 22-6 lead, but by the time the Spurs built a 75-53 lead -- thanks to a 69-31 run -- that early score was but a memory.
After Allen's three-pointer with 5:04 left in the first quarter put the Heat ahead by 16, the Spurs scored 12 straight points in a span of 1:51 to get back in the game. Then the Spurs held Miami to 11 points in the second quarter and scored 30 in the third to break it open. After scoring 29 points in the first quarter, the Heat managed a total of 29 in the second and third quarters.
A 19-4 surge capped by Ginobili's three-pointer gave San Antonio a 45-37 lead. On the possession before that, Ginobili drove and dunked over Bosh.
With the Spurs leading 56-42, Tiago Splitter stuffed Wade's dunk attempt and Mills hit the first of three straight three-pointers -- two by Mills and one by Ginobili -- that gave the Spurs a 65-44 lead and brought the sound in the arena to a deafening level.
But it got louder when the game was over and the championship belonged to the Spurs.
"It's so sweet to win a championship the way we did it," Parker said. "I would change nothing. It was all worth it, all the pain and all the hard work."