Basketball / Sports

The Miami Heat's Ray Allen dunks the ball on a fast break as the San Antonio Spurs' Danny Green defends in the third quarter in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The Spurs won, 110-95. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/MCT)

Heat loses to Spurs in sweltering Game 1

SAN ANTONIO -- LeBron James couldn't walk.

The stifling heat inside the building had done its job on the back-to-back MVP of the NBA Finals. Leg cramping wouldn't allow him to continue. James' right thigh locked up violently under the basket, and he had to be helped off the court by his teammates and trainers.

They dropped James like a heap of sweating despair on the bench, and he slammed his hand on press row in disgust. It was over.

Moments later, Spurs swingman Danny Green drilled a three-pointer to give the revengeful home team a five-point lead and, ultimately, Game 1 of the best-of-7 NBA Finals.

The 110-95 loss for the Heat felt like a demoralizing blow. Miami led by seven points in the fourth quarter but collapsed under all that stifling humidity and pressure, and, well, heat, inside AT&T Center.

"Yeah, it was probably tough on both teams," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Players were pretty dead."

James led the Heat with 25 points but couldn't play the final four minutes of the game. The Spurs outscored the Heat 16-3 after James left.

It was tent-revival hot for Game 1 of the Finals. According to the arena, an electrical failure disabled the air conditioning. It felt like a sauna inside the building. The foldable-hand clappers handed out at every seat doubled as makeshift fans for sweltering fans.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment released the following statement regarding the power failure:

"An electrical failure for the power that runs the AC system in the AT&T Center has occurred. We are continuing to work on resolving the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience."

"They're trying to smoke us out of here," James said on the bench during the third quarter.

It only seemed that way.

James started cramping during the second half, and his muscles seized with 7:31 left in the game. The Heat called timeout to give James time to recover, but he couldn't make it out of his courtside, foldable chair to reenter the game. It would be up to Dwyane Wade, it seemed, and he delivered with a clutch jumper to give Miami an 88-84 lead with 6:21 to play.

But the Heat forgot to cover Green.

The Spurs' three-point specialist made a pair of wide-open shots from beyond the arc to give San Antonio a 90-88 lead with 5:35 to play, and Green went down the court for a breakaway dunk to increase that lead to four points with 4:36 left.

"He'll shoot anything," Chris Bosh said of Green. "He will shoot anything, and that's what makes him difficult to guard, especially with their spacing and passing.

"If you're not ahead of the play, there always seems to be someone open on that last pass. They're very unselfish. They get off the ball quick and as soon as you make a mistake ... and that's why you got to be ahead of the play. We made some lapses, and we paid for it every time."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called timeout. He had to get James back into the game. That didn't last long.

A layup by James cut the Heat's deficit to 94-92, but he couldn't continue.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 21 points, and Tony Parker had 19 after entering the Finals with a sore ankle. Wade had 19 points, and Chris Bosh had 18.

The Spurs won despite committing 23 turnovers. The Heat had 18. Green had 13 points for the Spurs and was 3 of 7 from three-point range. Overall, the Spurs were 13 of 25 from long distance.

As for the stifling temperature on the court, Spoelstra mentioned after the game that the Heat is used to hotter arenas "this time of year," but disagreed with any type of conspiracy theory that the Spurs planned for the lack of air conditioning to give themselves an advantage.

"That would take an incredible mind to try to plan that," Spoelstra said.

Said Shane Battier: "I don't think (Popovich) turns off the A.C. and they practice in like a Native American sweat lodge. (Popovich) is innovative. I don't think he is that innovative."

James started showing signs of distress in the third quarter. He settled for a layup on a drive to the basket that would normally end with a dunk, and a possession later he came up short on a three-point attempt.

But as James was fading, Ray Allen somehow found young legs amid the heat and humidity and stormed down and blew past Green for a rim-rocking breakaway dunk. The unexpected dunk gave the Heat a four-point lead with 1:56 left in the third quarter and seemed to inspire James. He converted two free throws and made a spot-up three-pointer to give the Heat a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

(c)2014 The Miami Herald

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