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Hot-shooting Spurs surge past Heat in Game 3
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Behind a hot-shooting first half and a solid all-around effort from Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs regained home- court advantage in the NBA Finals with a resounding road win in Game 3.
The Spurs shot 75.8 percent from the floor in the first half, while Leonard finished with a career-high 29 points, as San Antonio took a 111-92 triumph over the Miami Heat on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
San Antonio set an NBA Finals record with a 25-of-33 shooting effort over the opening 24 minutes and held a 71-50 lead at the break before holding off the Heat in the second half to claim a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Leonard, who had scored just 18 points over the first two games of the Finals, shot 10-of-13 from the floor and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line for the Spurs, who snapped Miami's 11-game home winning streak in the playoffs.
"He was just himself," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said of Leonard. "That's how he's played all year long. He's gotta be one of our better players on the court or we're not good enough (to win). That's just the way it is."
San Antonio was the last team to beat the Heat on their home court in the postseason back in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals.
Danny Green added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, while Tony Parker and Tim Duncan contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the victory.
In addition to his offensive output, Leonard served as the primary defender against LeBron James, who supplied 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals, but committed seven of Miami's 20 turnovers in the setback.
"The turnovers definitely flattened us out," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's a big time possession series both ways so you have to be able to take care of the basketball. They won that battle clearly tonight."
Dwyane Wade also netted 22 points, while Rashard Lewis went 4-of-5 from 3- point range en route to 14 points for the Heat, who will look to even the series Thursday when they host Game 4.
Leonard led San Antonio's scorching shooting effort in the early going, connecting on 5-of-5 from the floor, including all three of his attempts from long range in the first quarter, which Manu Ginobili capped by banking in a trey at the buzzer to give the Spurs a 41-25 advantage after 12 minutes.
"It's not something you can plan," Ginobili said of his team's blistering first quarter. "There were no magic plays, we just moved the ball and every shot went in."
The Spurs continued to knock down shots in the second, hitting their first six attempts, including Leonard's jumper that made it 55-30 San Antonio with 8:09 left in the half.
Parker registered his first field goal just over two minutes later to give the Spurs a 24-point lead, but Lewis drained back-to-back triples to bring the Heat within 18 just over five minutes prior to the break.
Lewis added another trey just over a minute later, and after Duncan answered with a turnaround bank shot, Ray Allen nailed a 3-pointer, bringing Miami within 62-48 with 2:41 on the clock.
However, Parker responded with back-to-back buckets and Boris Diaw added a shot from long distance to send the Spurs into the break with a 21-point lead.
Miami turned up the defensive intensity in the third, holding San Antonio to just 6-of-19 shooting in the stanza to cut into the margin.
After scoring just six points in the first half, Wade came to life early in the third, pouring in seven points in the first four-plus minutes of the frame, as his jumper with 7:53 on the clock brought Miami within 75-62.
Ginobili's driving layup just over three minutes later pushed San Antonio's lead to 81-64, but the Heat answered with a 10-0 run, capped by Norris Cole's reverse layup that sliced Miami's deficit to seven.
Marco Belinelli quelled the spurt with a 3-pointer at the other end, and after Chris Andersen split two free throws, Diaw got a fadeaway jumper to fall, sending the Spurs into the fourth with an 86-75 advantage.
After Green opened the fourth with a jumper, Miami got as close as 10 on Allen's 3-pointer just over three minutes into the frame, but Leonard donated four straight points and Parker countered a Wade jumper with a triple to make it 97-82 with 6:57 to play.
Lewis halted a quick 7-2 San Antonio surge with a 3-pointer to make it 104-89 with four minutes left, but the Spurs held the Heat without a field goal the rest of the way to put the game away.
The winner of Game 3 of a tied NBA Finals series has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time (30-6). However, the Spurs won last year's Game 3 with the set tied 1-1 and went on to lose in seven games ... Wade, playing in his 150th career postseason game, surpassed Dirk Nowitzki (3,455) for 17th place on the NBA's all-time postseason scoring list ... San Antonio's 75.8 percent shooting effort in the first half overcame the NBA mark for any half in an NBA Finals game set by Orlando in 2009 ... San Antonio scored 23 points off 20 Miami turnovers, while the Heat scored just six points off 13 turnovers from the Spurs ... San Antonio shot 59.4 percent (38-of-64) from the floor overall ... The road team has won 38 games in the 2014 NBA playoffs, the most in any postseason in NBA history.
06/11 01:06:13 ET
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