The Miami Heat can't get over the hump preventing them from winning two games in a row in the NBA Finals, and now they find themselves on the brink of elimination.
The Heat fell to the San Antonio Spurs in Sunday's Game 5, 114-104. Miami shot a dismal 41% from two-point range, missing 14 shots from within 4 feet of the rim. Down 3 games to 2 in the best-of-seven series, the Heat return home to Miami lamenting a number of missed opportunities to come back from double-digit deficits.
"They just absolutely outplayed us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "At times they were just picking one guy out at a time and going at us mano-a-mano. That's got to change."
Manu Ginobili, who had not scored more than 7 points in Games 2 through 4, made his first start of the series and came up with his best performance of the season. He scored 24 points, adding 10 assists.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James each scored 25 points, with Wade adding 10 assists to James' 8. But James shot just 8 of 22 from the field, while Wade was not much better at 10 of 22.
Ray Allen scored 21 points off the bench, and Chris Bosh scored 16 points. Allen and Bosh were the only members of the Heat to shoot better than 50% for the game (apart from James Jones, who made his only shot attempt in the game's final minute).
In the early going it looked like Game 5 would be a Spurs blowout. Miami shot 30% in the first quarter, then fell behind by as many as 17 points in the second. After missing 21 of their first 29 shots, the Heat clawed back late in the second quarter using a lineup with no point guards, cutting the deficit as low as 5 at one point.
The Spurs responded to each Heat run with one of their own to staunch the bleeding, and they led 61-52 at halftime. Miami’s Big Three combined for 40 points on 15 of 30 shooting; the rest of the Heat shot 4 of 15 for 12 points.
The Heat slowly battled their way to within one point of the Spurs late in the third quarter, seemingly setting up a dramatic finish. But then the Spurs went on 12-1 run to close the quarter, and followed that up by scoring the first 7 points of the fourth quarter to take a 19-point lead.
It was the third time San Antonio went on a momentous run just as Miami seemed to be coming back. In the first quarter, the Heat tied the game at 17 only to see San Antonio score 12 straight points. Miami scored the first 8 points of the second half to make it a 62-61 game, then the Spurs responded with a 7-0 run.
Most maddening for the Heat was the difficulty finishing at the rim. Countless times James and Wade missed shots at the rim on fast breaks.
Danny Green scored 24 points, breaking Allen's Finals record for three-pointers in a series with 25. Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan scored 17 and added 12 rebounds.
Now the Finals moves to Miami for Game 6 (and Game 7 if necessary). Game 6 tips off at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.
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