A broken air conditioner system inside the AT&T Center arena caused all sorts of problems for both teams, especially Miami’s LeBron James, who had to leave the closely-contested match late in the fourth quarter suffering from heat-related problems.
Temperatures inside the arena Thursday hit 33 degrees Celsius (91F) during the second half.
“I think everybody got a little tired or dehydrated for sure,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “I am sure both teams are going to be happy that we have a couple of days before the next game and hopefully we can pay our bills.”
But NBA officials weren’t laughing Thursday. The Spurs and the league blamed the sauna-like conditions on a problem with the electrical supply to the air conditioning in the building.
James finished with a game-high 25 points but even before he went to the bench for good he had trouble getting up and down the floor under his own steam because of apparent cramping in his legs.
Just before he left the game and headed to the dressing room — with four minutes remaining in the fourth — last year’s finals MVP had to be carried across the floor by his teammates to the Miami bench.
– Punch in the gut –
“It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping like that back to the bench,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Tony Parker finished with 19 points and eight assists while Manu Ginobili came off the bench for 16 points and 11 assists for the Spurs who are trying to win their fifth NBA championship since 1999.
Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and Chris Bosh tallied 18 points and nine rebounds for the Heat who are just the third team in NBA history to make the finals four straight years.
San Antonio went on a 30-5 run to end the fourth quarter behind some clutch baskets from Danny Green, who had been kept in check up until that point of the contest.
When James left the game, the Heat were down by just two points, 94-92.
James had been covering Green all night and limited the Spurs guard to just two points in the first three quarters. But with no James, Green was able to bust loose for some key baskets down the stretch.
Ginobili, who is going through a resurgence these playoffs, scored nine points as San Antonio got off to a quick start by taking a 26-20 lead into the second quarter. It is the most points veteran Ginobili has ever scored in the first quarter of a finals game.
Duncan also helped pace the Spurs attack early with 15 points on six-of-seven shooting as the San Antonio led by five points at halftime, 54-49.
Parker played 18 minutes in the first half in game one after playing just 19 minutes and missing the second half in the final game of the Western Conference finals because of a sprained left ankle.
But the 32-year-old Frenchman showed no effects of the injury on Thursday, shooting eight-of-15 from the field in 36:36 minutes of playing time.
“I was a little worried in the first quarter but in the second half it felt great,” said Parker of his ankle.