Miami: The San Antonio Spurs took a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with another comfortable 107-86 road win over Miami on Thursday, closing within one victory of avenging last year's loss to the Heat.
Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who can win their fifth NBA championship with a victory at home in Game 5 on Sunday.
"I'm pleased that they performed as well as they did while we've been in Miami, and that's about as far as it goes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Now we've got to go back home and play as well or better."
LeBron James tried to keep the Heat in it with 28 points and eight rebounds, but Dwyane Wade was just 1 of 10 through three quarters and finished with 10 points.
If the Heat are going to win this series, it will take the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history.
No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals, and the way they were outclassed twice on their home floor makes it hard to imagine the two-time champions being the first.
"This was probably the biggest surprise of the series," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Tony Parker added 19 points, and Tim Duncan had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who shot 57 percent from the field.
San Antonio lost twice in Miami to end last year's finals, their only defeat in the championship round. They won their two games in Florida this time by a combined 40 points.
The past 13 times Miami lost a playoff game, they always responded with a victory in the next encounter, but successive losses suggests they might be weary at the end of a fourth-straight season that has gone the distance.
Miami seemed to lack the energy — or maybe effort — to defend San Antonio's precision ball movement for the full 24 seconds, and time after time the Spurs ended up with a shot from somebody who didn't have a defender nearby.
The visitors were not quite as sharp as when they shot a finals-record 75.8 percent in the first half Tuesday, but they were still good enough to open another huge lead by halftime, and they withstood every attempt Miami made to make a run.
"We were expecting a reaction from them but we were ready for it, so we just did the same thing," Spurs forward Boris Diaw said.
The defense was definitely improved in the first half, holding Miami to 12 of 34 (35 percent).
The Spurs used a 13-2 spurt to open a nine-point lead, and that was the margin when they went to the second ahead 26-17.
San Antonio got the first five of the second to make it 31-17 on Danny Green's 3-pointer, and the Spurs blew it open later in the quarter with seven straight points, capped by Leonard's soaring follow dunk that made it 55-33.
It was another rough start for James, who battled cramps in Game 1, then left the court and briefly returned to the locker room midway through the first quarter Thursday.
He had 10 quick points in the third quarter to bring Miami within 13, but San Antonio got a basket from Duncan to start a 7-0 run that pushed it to 68-48. The Spurs poured it on late in the third, pushing the lead to 81-57.
Updated Date: Jun 13, 2014 12:26:40 IST