Spurs on the brink after scorching Heat

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PARKER-HEATSAN ANTONIO, June 17 – The San Antonio Spurs moved within one victory of a fifth NBA title Sunday by beating the Miami Heat 114-104 behind a game-high 26 points from Tony Parker and 24 from Danny Green.

The Spurs seized a 3-2 lead and can wrap up the best-of-seven series against the reigning champion Heat with a victory on Tuesday in Miami.

“Our guys did a good job of continuing to play and not getting down,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t change defences or put in a trick play or anything. At this point it is about competing.”

Compete they did as the Spurs came out swinging in game five, jumping out to a quick 8-4 lead and never trailing in front of a crowd of 18,581 at the AT&T Center. Their lead ballooned to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.

Of the previous 27 times the finals have been tied 2-2, the winner of game five has gone on to win the series 20 times.

The Heat closed the gap a couple of times but every time the Spurs would then pull away.

“They just absolutely outplayed us,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Once we got it back to one and we felt that we had weathered the storm then we missed a couple of shots that we normally make.”

Green went six-of-10 from beyond the arc to set an NBA finals record with 25 three pointers so far. He recorded his record setting 23rd three pointer of the series — to break Ray Allen’s previous mark — with a 25-foot bomb with 9:40 left in the third to make it 66-59.

Green also helped seal the win with a late three pointer from the right side to make it 114-101 with 1:06 left in regulation.

Manu Ginobili finished with 24 points and 10 assists as all five Spurs starters scored in double figures.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had 25 points apiece for the Heat, who once again failed to win back-to-back games after taking game four in San Antonio.

This was a breakout game for the 35-year-old Ginobili, who had averaged just 7.5 points per game during the first four games of the series.

Popovich decided to start the Argentinian veteran in game five for the first time in the series and it paid off as he had 10 assists to go with his 24 points.

“I attacked better, got to the free throw line a little bit more and those things combined to get me going,” Ginobili said.

Once again Parker was also dangerous in the early going, despite playing with an injured hamstring.

San Antonio ended the first quarter on a 15-2 run that included eight points from Parker. Kawhi Leonard drained a 23-foot three pointer to cap the scoring and give the Spurs a 13-point lead at the end of the first.

“We shot the ball a lot better, moved the ball a lot better,” said Spurs veteran Tim Duncan, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. “We moved their defence very well. And we had a lot of guys attacking and making shots.”

Heading into game five, Green needed three three pointers to tie Allen’s NBA finals record. Allen set the record in 2008 while playing for the Boston Celtics.

Green got all three in the first half as he shot three-of-four from beyond the arc. Green nailed a 26-foot three pointer five minutes into the second to tie Allen, who now plays for Miami and was guarding Green on the shot.

The Heat’s marquee trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh had their moments.

Miami went on a 12-1 run midway through the second quarter which included a four point play by Allen after he hit a 25-foot three pointer and was fouled. Allen finished with 21 points.

Parker made a driving layup at the buzzer to close out the scoring in the first half and give the Spurs a 61-52 lead at the break.

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