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Spurs push Cavs to brink

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(Photo)
San Antonio's Tim Duncan shot over Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas during Tuesday's game in Cleveland.
(Eric Gay ~ Associated Press)
San Antonio opens 3-0 lead in NBA finals with 75-72 victory.

CLEVELAND -- Rude and ruthless, the San Antonio Spurs ruined Cleveland's 37-year wait to host the NBA finals.

Unwelcome guests, they defied the young King and may soon take home another crown of their own.

Bruce Bowen, the defensive stopper, emerged as an unlikely offensive star as the Spurs moved within one win of their fourth championship in nine years with a 75-72 win over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

And they did it with only two-thirds of their Big 3 doing what they usually do in one of the lowest-scoring games in finals history.

Tony Parker scored 17 points and Tim Duncan had 14, but Manu Ginobili, who scored 25 in Game 2, had just three -- all free throws in the final 10.4 seconds -- to hold off the Cavaliers and crush the hopes of their towel-waving crowd, who had never before seen their team play a finals game in person.

Cleveland's chances, and maybe their last hopes of extending the season, ended when LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, was short with a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Bowen, who had just nine points in the first two games, scored 13 and Brent Barry made three 3-pointers for the Spurs, who can all but plan their victory parade as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 deficit.

"It doesn't change at all," Duncan said of the Spurs' attitude. "We need to get one more, and that's it, however it comes. We know they're going to come out this next game, they don't want to get swept."

The Spurs can wrap up their third title in five years with a win in Game 4 on Thursday night. If they do complete the eighth sweep in finals history, they'll join the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as the only franchises to win four or more titles.


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