San Antonio put one foot into the NBA Western Conference finals with a 118-103 win at Portland on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in their series, while Brooklyn avoided slipping to the same deficit by defeating Miami.
Tony Parker scored 29 points for the Spurs, who built a big early lead — just as they had in the opening two games of the series — by going 23 points up on the Trail Blazers in the first half, and controlled the game from there.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Portland, which pulled within eight points in the third quarter but couldn’t get any closer. The Blazers were hurt by 15 turnovers and only six points from their bench.
No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series, suggesting San Antonio is bound for a Western Conference decider against either Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder leads that series 2-1.
The Blazers took a brief 13-12 lead midway through the first quarter but the Spurs surged to score 16 of the next 20 points to take a grip on the contest.
Parker’s back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Spurs a 58-35 late first-half lead and they went into the break ahead 60-40.
Portland rallied to get the deficit back to manageable proportions at 68-60, but the Spurs kept the Blazers from coming any closer and led 83-69 going into the fourth, and they were not troubled in the last.
The Spurs have a 3-2 series advantage over Portland in the playoffs, sweeping the previous meeting in the 1999 conference finals. The teams split the regular-season series 2-2.
Nets pull a game back
Meanwhile, Brooklyn secured the win it badly needed by beating Miami 104-90, inflicting a first defeat on the Heat in this postseason and cutting the series deficit to 2-1.
Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Andray Blatche had career playoff highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.
Brooklyn, which swept Miami in the regular season, can tie the series with another home-court victory on Monday.
Miami’s LeBron James scored 16 points in the first quarter but only two baskets for the rest of the game. He finished with 28 points.
The Heat had not even faced a fourth-quarter deficit in these playoffs and won their previous four games by double digits, but the Nets shook off the Heat’s sizzling start, then held them to 33 points over the middle two quarters to take control.
Paul Pierce had 14 points while Mirza Teletovic and Shaun Livingston each scored 12 points for the Nets in their first home postseason victory ever against the Heat. Teletovic made four of Brooklyn’s 15 3-pointers.
Brooklyn’s Deron Williams, 0 for 9 in Game 2, shot just 3 for 11 but finished with nine points and 11 assists. Kevin Garnett, just 2 for 10 for four total points in Miami, shot 5 of 6 for 10 points and seven rebounds.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and James grabbed eight rebounds, but his night fell well short of what it could have been after his ferocious first quarter.
He made a free throw to bring Miami to 59-56 in the third quarter, but Teletovic made a 3-pointer, followed by baskets by Blatche, Johnson and Livingston to make it 68-56. Teletovic made two more 3s and Williams knocked down another before the end of the quarter, which ended with the Nets ahead 77-63.
Teletovic opened the fourth with another 3, and Alan Anderson hit a pair later in the period while also getting in a skirmish with Ray Allen that led to double technical fouls. The Nets held Allen to two baskets after he hurt them in both games in Miami.