Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sat in mostly stunned silence, all that playoff experience not preparing them for how they felt after two games.
They were satisfied, yet shaken.
The San Antonio Spurs had taken home-court advantage away from the Miami Heat, but then the reigning champions took them apart.
So as they prepared to bring the NBA finals back home for the first time in seven years, the veterans struggled with how they were supposed to sum up their situation.
Getting one in South Florida was an accomplishment, but nothing that provided them any momentum after the Heat's 103-84 victory Sunday in Game 2.
"Not after tonight. I think they regained that," Duncan said. "Obviously we were glad to win a game here in Game 1. Our goal was to get two. But they got the one tonight.
"We get to go back home. We got a game here. We have three at home, so we're excited about that. But if we play like we did tonight, that's not going to matter."
The teams took Monday off, with the series resuming Tuesday night.
The Spurs will also host Game 4 on Thursday and Game 5 on Sunday.
The finals were once as much a part of June as the heat in this city deep in the heart of Texas. San Antonio won four titles in a nine-year span starting in 1999, but hasn't hosted a game in the NBA's championship round since the Spurs took a 2-0 lead over LeBron James and Cleveland in 2007.
Here comes James again, needing to win one here -- which hasn't been easy for Miami -- and not concerned that the finals' 2-3-2 format now gives the advantage to the Spurs.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "Two best teams in the NBA at this point. Both teams have won and can win on each other's floor. So it's not a biggie."
The Heat are just 3-22 in San Antonio, though they did win this year even while James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sat out the late-season meeting.
James had no cause for concern after Game 2, which validated his belief that he can depend on his teammates until he gets rolling, as he did late in the third quarter and well into the fourth.
But a little doubt seemed to creep into the Spurs' Big Three, unusual for a group that has been there, done that.
Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have teamed for 99 postseason victories together, second-most in NBA history, a trio that is well aware of how quickly things can change in the playoffs.
They changed really quickly in this series, about the time it took James to turn Tiago Splitter's dunk attempt into a forever finals highlight with a blocked shot.
"Of course if you look at the result, being 1-1, it's not bad. But you don't want to play like this in an NBA finals," Ginobili said.
"You don't want to give them that much confidence, and you feeling bad about yourself."
GRIZZLIES: Memphis decided to part with the winningest coach in the franchise's history, telling Lionel Hollins it will not be renewing his contract as head coach coming off its first trip to the Western Conference finals.
Hollins confirmed he had been told his contract would not be renewed. He had no further comment.
PISTONS: Detroit hired former 76ers and Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks.
Detroit fired Lawrence Frank in April, a day after the once-proud franchise finished 29-53. Frank was 54-94 in two seasons with the Pistons.
Cheeks was 284-286 in the regular season and 5-11 in the playoffs as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers.
HAWKS: Quin Snyder, a former assistant coach with the Lakers and 76ers and former coach at Missouri, was hired to join new coach Mike Budenholzer's staff as an assistant.
Snyder returns to the NBA with the Hawks after spending last season as an assistant with CSKA Moscow.
KINGS: Sacramento hired Chris Jent as an assistant on newly hired coach Mike Malone's staff.
Malone announced the move, citing Jent's experience as both a college and pro assistant.
The 43-year-old Jent joins the Kings from Ohio State. Jent had been an assistant at his alma mater since 2011 and helped lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four in 2012.