forward Kawhi Leonard
(right) exploded for 18 first-half points in Game 3 vs. the Heat
. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
MIAMI -- The Spurs exploded for a record-breaking first half on offense during a 111-92 victory over the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday.
San Antonio piled up 41 points in the first quarter and 71 points in the first half, when it led by as many as 25 points. The Spurs took a 21-point lead (71-50) into the break and withstood a second-half comeback from the Heat, who got as close as seven points with two minutes left in the third quarter. San Antonio leads the series 2-1.
The Spurs came out hot and never stopped in the first half, shooting 25-for-33 (75.8 percent) overall and 7-for-10 (70 percent) from three-point range. San Antonio set a Finals record for shooting percentage in a half, beating the Magic's 75 percent during Game 3 of the 2009 Finals against the Lakers.
In addition, the Spurs set a Finals record for shooting in a quarter by sinking 13-for-15 (86.7 percent) in the first period, when they scored one more point than they did in the entire second half (40). Manu Ginobili's buzzer-beating, banked-in three-pointer capped the onslaught in the opening 12 minutes:
Kawhi Leonard led the way with 18 first-half points (on 6-for-7 shooting) and three treys, matching his scoring output from the first two games of the series. Danny Green (13 points) and Tim Duncan (10) were also in double figures at halftime. All nine Spurs who played scored.
Here's every San Antonio basket in the first half:
Coincidentally or not, the outburst came in the first game after coach Gregg Popovich replaced center Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup with forward Boris Diaw. San Antonio had not used its starting lineup of Green, Leonard, Diaw, Duncan and Tony Parker during the playoffs.
San Antonio became the first team to score 70 points or more in the first half of a Finals game since the Lakers put up 75 points against the Celtics in Game 2 of the 1987 Finals.
One final humorous point of comparison: The Jazz were held to 54 points by the Bulls in Game 3 of the 1998 Finals. On Tuesday, it took the Spurs just 15:52 to score 55 points.
According to ESPN, the Spurs improved to 47-0 when leading by 20 points or more at halftime during the Popovich era, which began in 1996.
Leonard finished with a career-high 29 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) for the Spurs, who cooled off enough in the second half to end up at 59.4 percent from the field. Green made 7-of-8 shots for 15 points.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had 22 points apiece for Miami, which lost at home for the first time in this postseason despite shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from beyond the arc.
Game 4 is Thursday in Miami.
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