Cavs no challenge for Spurs

Tony Parker led San Antonio, while LeBron James led Cleveland astray.

Posted: June 11, 2007

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The Cleveland Cavaliers will no doubt take solace in their fourth-quarter rally against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, when they cut a 27-point deficit to eight before falling 103-92. But the bottom line is that the Spurs have been the vastly superior team, and have left no doubt that this is their championship to lose.

Just as in Game 1, the Spurs embarrassed the Cavaliers most of the night, with guard Tony Parker (game-high 30 points) leading the way, and again got great performances from Tim Duncan (23 points, nine rebounds) and Manu Ginobili (25 points). And just as in Game 1, the Cavaliers put on a spirited rally in the fourth, going on a 25-6 run.

Led by LeBron James (25 points), Cleveland got as close as eight late in the game, the last time on a basket by guard Daniel Gibson that brought the Cavaliers to 97-89 with three minutes left.

But San Antonio held off Cleveland's rally with a huge four-point play from Ginobili, who hit a three-pointer just as Gibson ran into him with 2 minutes, 24 seconds to go. Ginobili's free throw gave the Spurs an 11-point lead and they held serve at home and take a lead of two games to none in this best-of-seven series.

Game 3 is tomorrow night in Cleveland.

The Spurs' dominance has been complete; they've gotten great play from their bench as well as from their starters. In Game 2, veteran forward Robert Horry, looking for his seventh ring, had nine rebounds and five blocked shots in 26 minutes.

"Robert was our star tonight," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. "I know that Tony and Manu scored, and Tim scored and boarded and that sort of thing. You kind of take those guys for granted. When someone comes off the bench and does what Robert did at both ends of the floor, that's fantastic."

James' and Cleveland's hopes for a quick start were dashed when he picked up his second foul with less than three minutes gone in the game, on a dubious reach-in foul on Duncan - who had been camped in the lane, it seemed, for more than three seconds. At any rate, James sat the rest of the first quarter, and by the time he came back to start the second, San Antonio had taken control.

Once again, Cleveland couldn't do much to slow down Parker - other than a six-minute period in the first, when the Cavaliers put veteran guard Eric Snow on him in place of ailing starter Larry Hughes - and once again, the Spurs' bench dominated Cleveland's. Backups Brent Barry and Francisco Elson keyed an 11-0 run late in the quarter, including a beautiful no-look pass from Barry to Elson for a dunk, which gave San Antonio a 28-17 lead after one.

"Our effort has to be better," Cleveland Coach Mike Brown said. "Our aggression has to be higher. And we have do it and be poised in the same breath."

It only got worse for the Cavaliers in the second, even though James tried to get himself going. The Spurs eviscerated Cleveland's defense - with Parker again controlling the game from the point, Duncan dominating all defenders on the inside, and Ginobili flying to the rim from the wings - and the Spurs' defense again smothered the Cavaliers' offense.

The Big Three keyed another run, this one an 18-4 spurt, and the Spurs led by 58-33 at the half, leaving no indication that there was going to be any competition in this series.

"We're not doing something special; we're playing the same way," Parker said. "We're just doing a better job of taking turns."

The third was more of the same, despite Cleveland's playing with a little more energy. Parker, Duncan and Ginobili took turns smacking the Cavaliers around: Parker hit a three, Ginobili followed with another, then fed a trailing Duncan for a fastbreak layup with 5:12 left in the quarter.

Cleveland called a time-out. It was 76-49 at that point, and 89-62 after three, much of America long having abandoned the goings on in the Lone Star State to witness the denouement of Anthony Soprano.


Contact staff writer David Aldridge at 215-854-5516 or daldridge@phillynews.com.

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