Post Up: King Moves
LeBron James leads the Heat to a big win; Tony Parker and the Spurs go up 2-1 on the Warriors.
Miami 104, Chicago 94 (Heat lead 2-1)
The Bulls played with a characteristic passion that fired up the entire city of Chicago, but they couldn’t hold back the Heat down the stretch.
The Heat returned to Chicago for the first time since the Bulls ended their 27-game win streak and out-scored the Bulls 34-24 in the fourth quarter Friday night to come up with a 10-point win. LeBron James came up big when it mattered, scoring 17 points second-half points (12 in the fourth) and shot a Jesus Shuttlesworth-esque 11-11 at the line.
James hit a triple with 2:35 remaining, Norris Cole knocked down a monstrous three-ball with 1:48 left and James sealed the deal by converting a three-point play with 1:23 to play.
But it was Chris Bosh who stepped up big for the Heat after a quiet first two games of the series. A red-hot Bosh became the first player to record at least 20 points, 19 rebounds and 4 assists in the Playoffs since James did it wearing a Cavs uniform in 2010.
Cole, who had 18 points in Game 2, matched that output in Game 3 by continuing his hot outside shooting. The backup PG was 3-3 from outside and is a perfect 8-8 from three-point range in the series. He missed one shot all night long.
Dwyane Wade was surprisingly quiet again, finishing with only 10 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting. It was his fourth straight Playoff game of 15 or fewer points—the first such scoring drought in his career. Wade, interestingly, has only made one free throw in the series.
Carlos Boozer had his best night of the series, hitting five of his first six shots en route to a team-high 21 points, but the big man went quiet when it mattered.
Every Bulls starter scored more than 15 points, but Chicago’s bench was atrocious. Nazr Mohammed provided the most memorable reserve moment for the Bulls when he bear-hugged James with 9:29 remaining in the second quarter. LeBron pushed him off (and got hit with a technical), and Mohammed retaliated by pushing LeBron to the floor, leading to an ejection.
Chicago dominated the paint from the outset—outscoring Miami 44-28 down low—but it didn’t matter. The Heat, in the Big Three era, are now 10-0 after trailing 0-1 in a series.—Ryne Nelson / @slaman10
San Antonio 102, Golden State 92 (Spurs lead 2-1)
“We all just got together and said that we must play harder. That was the focal point, going hard.” —Spurs reserve guard Cory Joseph
There was a point in the first quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Spurs and Warriors where I didn’t feel too good about the Warriors’ chances. Things were just coming a little too easy for the Spurs. Every pass was crisp, ever player seemed in sync, every shot seemed either easy or wide open. The answers just didn’t seem there.
That’s when it became obvious that this was going to be Tony Parker’s night.
Parker stated after the game that he noticed the Warriors defense watched film and decided to push him left. So during pre-game, Parker focused on warming up on that side of the floor and it paid incredible dividends. Ten of Parker’s 13 field goals came from the left side of the court, and his final line of 32 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists was the exclamation point on a Spurs 102-92 win with a performance that seemed relentless.
“They execute you to death. They’ve got a lot of ball movement and man movement. They’re unselfish. They’re disciplined. That’s who they are. They’ve been that way for a long time. They’ve won a lot of ballgames that way.” —Warriors head coach Mark Jackson
Where the Spurs were precise in their execution, the Warriors seemed compromised. More specifically, it felt like they were searching for some mojo, or something to give them some hope. Maybe the Andrew Bogut dunk on Boris Diaw would inspire. Maybe that’s why Mark Jackson went to David Lee for a few minutes. Maybe Draymond Green’s miraculous and-one bank shot jumper (although he missed the free throw) could get the people going. Oracle was loud and raucous per usual, but it still wasn’t quite like what we were accustomed to.
Then Stephen Curry busted a flat tire on his ankle. Again.
The Bay Area’s favorite shooter had to resort to being Steve Kerr-y (Get it? Yes? No? OK) as the body english on No. 30 told the story.
I’m not right, it hurts bad, I’m going to chill in the corner as a decoy, OK?
Golden State’s three perimeter leaders—Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack—combined to shoot 17-49 from the field as they were harassed by the tenacious Spurs defense. This was the first time during the Playoffs where none of the three players were “on”, but the role players chipped in where they could. Harrison Barnes led the scoring charge in the first half, Bogut did a fine job defending the rim and stifling Tim Duncan, and Draymond Green and Carl Landry did the dirty work and grunted out points. Their efforts were not enough and Mark Jackson’s got to go back to his bag of motivational speeches, schemes and strategies to figure out some new ways to break through the will of the Spurs.
Meanwhile, somewhere in some dark room, with some Johnny Cash playing and a 12-year scotch poured neat in a glass, Gregg Popovich is thinking of new ways to belittle us in the media and make fun of Craig Sager’s suit. A diabolical grin comes across his face as visions of tropical Now-N-Laters and Sager suits flash across his brain. Pure happiness for Pop. A new challenge in the Playoffs, new players to mold and develop and new deadpan one-liners to deliver to the shiny suit man. This is his life.
(I just hope and pray this is how Popovich actually lives…that would be awesome.)—Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan