Cavaliers rally not enough to avoid sweep
nba finals: SPURS 83, CAVALIERS 82
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers rebounded to get ahead, but then couldn’t get enough rebounds to stay ahead.
Getting numerous second chances down the stretch, the San Antonio Spurs completed a four-game NBA Finals sweep of the Cavaliers with an 83-82 victory Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
“We faced a better team in this series,” LeBron James said. “It’s as simple as that.”
It was the Spurs’ fourth NBA title in nine years, and it came with Manu Ginobili, 0-of-7 from the field in Game 3, providing 27 points off the bench and series MVP Tony Parker getting all 24 of his in the first three quarters.
“It never gets old,” said San Antonio power forward Tim Duncan, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds but was 4-of-15 from the field, 4-of-10 at the line and committed six turnovers.
James, whose girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s second boy early Thursday morning, had 24 points, six rebounds and
10 assists for the Cavaliers, but was 10-of-30 from the field,
2-of-6 at the line and committed six turnovers.
James, who got no sleep Wednesday night, was 5-of-21 from the field early in the fourth quarter.
“It definitely could have been better,” said the 22-year-old, who had 23 turnovers and shot .356 in the series. “If I don’t play well, our team is not going to have a chance to win. I’ve got a lot of things to work on to get better for next year.
“I have to be 10 times better. Our team has to be 10 times better.”
Drew Gooden added 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas had eight points and 13 rebounds. Gooden, however, played just 47 seconds in the final period and Ilgauskas didn’t play at all, when San Antonio had six crucial offensive rebounds.
“We probably ran out of gas,” said Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, who played James, Anderson Varejao, Donyell Marshall, Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones for almost all of the fourth quarter. “That was part of it. The other part of it was the Spurs’ experience.”
Another part of it was Brown failing to go back to his best rebounders after his reserves had given him all they had to get the Cavaliers back in the game.
With Varejao repeatedly flopping and failing to box out, the Spurs took shot after shot until Fabricio Oberto, of all people, converted a three-point play to put them up 72-66 with 2:29 to go.
James, who had 13 points in the final period, then committed a turnover and Oberto made another layup to put San Antonio up eight with two minutes left, leaving the Cavaliers an uphill battle.
“They were the team getting all the rebounds, but we had a stretch there where we got extra shots,” Duncan said. “We found a way to get it done.”
James made a 3-pointer to cut the Cavaliers’ deficit to five and Ginobili then missed from behind the arc, but James bounced the ball off his thigh and out of bounds with 1:32 remaining while attempting to turn up court quickly after grabbing a long rebound.
The Spurs missed two shots on their ensuing possession but rebounded each one, with Varejao and Marshall once again unable to control their own backboard while Ilgauskas and Gooden watched.
Cleveland finally fouled with 1:17 left, giving San Antonio a fresh 24-second shot clock, and Ginobili drove for a hoop to put the Spurs up seven with 1:05 left.
The Cavaliers got within 79-76 on three Jones free throws with 7.5 seconds left, but Ginobili, who had fouled Jones on a 3-point attempt a half-second earlier, redeemed himself with two free throws of his own with 7.0 ticks on the clock.
James made it a two-point game with a 3-pointer, but Ginobili iced things with two free throws with 1.9 seconds left.
“Manu was terrific,” Brown said. “He’s got the heart of a lion. He’s not a guy who, when he gets hit, is going to stay down.”
Jones made a meaningless three at the buzzer for the final margin, setting off a wild celebration among the Spurs.
“You’ve got to give San Antonio credit,” Brown said. “That’s a helluva team. They did everything they were supposed to do to win the basketball game.”
With Parker doing anything he wanted — he had 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and six assists heading into the final quarter — the Spurs led by as many as 11 points in the third period before taking a 60-52 lead into the fourth period.
The Cavaliers, however, got five points from Marshall, four from James and two from Gibson in an 11-0 run to start the final quarter, when San Antonio missed its first eight shots and made two turnovers.
The Spurs didn’t get their first field goal in the final period until Duncan hit a hook with 6:34 to go.
“It made it sweeter for them to make a run and for us to answer, it really did,” Duncan said. “We found a way to win. That’s what this team is all about. No matter what happens, we find a way to win.”
Duncan did nothing in the first half, going 0-of-5 from the field and 2-of-6 at the line while committing three turnovers, but the Spurs still led 39-34, largely because Parker got to the basket at will in scoring 15 first-half points and the Cavaliers were lousy, abysmal and atrocious offensively.
James, who took a lot more medium-range jumpers than he did in Game 3, had nine points at intermission, but was 4-of-13 from the field and 1-of-4 at the line.
The Cavaliers did get 10 first-half rebounds from Ilgauskas and six from Gooden, but the rest of the team combined for a grand total of three in 87 minutes of action.
Contact Rick Noland at email@example.com or (330) 721-4061.
JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
LeBron James can do nothing to stop the Spurs from sweeping the Cavaliers out of the NBA Finals.