SAN ANTONIO —
Duncan hit a pair of three throws and another basket, and after a jumper by Neal, he threw a long outlet to Leonard for a dunk that made it 40-30.
Neal’s 3 made it 43-32, but Miller hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 12-1 run that tied it at 44 with 37 seconds in the half, the Heat appearing set to go into the half with momentum. But Parker drilled a 3 from the corner, and after Green blocked James’ shot, the Spurs rushed it up for a 3-pointer by Neal that fell at the buzzer, the reserve guard pointing back toward his defenders before the Spurs headed to the locker room with a 50-44 advantage.
The party played on all right, with a huge roar when Tracy McGrady, a former perennial All-Star now in his first finals appearance as a member of the Spurs’ bench, checked in midway through the fourth quarter. He was scoreless with three assists.
James started 2 for 13, then made his final four shots of the third as the Heat got within 13 before Ginobili fired a nifty pass to Tiago Splitter under the basket for a score with 0.1 seconds remaining, making it 78-63 and setting the stage for the big fourth-quarter finish.
“We want to make them take tough shots. They missed a couple. Obviously it worked this game, but next game we know they’ll come out differently,” Green said. “We’re not comfortable at any point defensively. We have to continue to be active, be aggressive get our hands on loose balls.”
It was a potentially pivotal victory for the Spurs in their quest to go 5 for 5 in the finals. Since the NBA Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, the Game 3 winner when the series was tied 1-1 has gone on to win 12 of the 13 titles — though the Heat were the lone one that didn’t, in 2011.
Notes: The previous NBA Finals record for a team was 14 3-pointers, held by three teams. ... Miami’s first victory in San Antonio came on Dec. 23, 1996, in its 11th try. David Robinson broke his left foot in the second quarter of the Heat’s 90-79 victory, missed the rest of the season, and the Spurs fell into the lottery, which they ended up winning so they could take Duncan with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 draft.