Spurs Scorch Heat
In Tinder-Box Conditions, San Antonio Rolls
San Antonio — Tim Duncan had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 110-95 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals inside a sweltering AT&T Center.
With an air conditioning failure making it feel like basketball in a sauna and causing LeBron James to battle cramps that knocked him out of the game’s decisive stretch, the Spurs pulled away to win the opener of the first finals rematch since 1998.
Manu Ginobili had 16 points and 11 assists, and Tony Parker added 19 points and eight assists for the Spurs, who shot 59 percent and improved to 6 for 6 in NBA Finals Game 1s.
James finished with 25 points but played only 33 minutes, and Miami was outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter.
Heat was the story in Game 1.
Not the Miami Heat, so much, as literal heat.
With temperatures measured in the mid-80s inside the arena, Game 1 of the title series between Miami and San Antonio was a sweltering struggle. Players tried to cool by placing icebags on their necks while resting on the bench, and just about everyone in the sellout crowd was using something to fan themselves.
“It’s just a bad situation,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told ABC’s Doris Burke during an interview before the fourth quarter. Moments earlier, Burke reported that a hand-held thermometer placed near the playing surface measured the air temperature at 88 degrees.
It’s not the first time electricity has had a significant impact on a championship event in recent years. The Super Bowl in 2013 between Baltimore and San Francisco was marred by a power outage at the Superdome in New Orleans, interrupting play for 34 minutes.
Power was the culprit in Game 1 of the finals as well, arena officials said.
“An electrical failure for the power that runs the AC system in the AT&T Center has occurred,” Spurs Sports and Entertainment said in a statement distributed in the second half. “We are continuing to work on resolving the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Many fans removed the giveaway black T-shirts handed out before the game, obviously wanting to wear as few layers inside the steamy building as possible. Heat star LeBron James was clearly laboring in the second half.
“They’re trying to smoke us out of here,” he told teammates during one stoppage in play.
Neither team was scheduled to practice at the arena today or Saturday because of a previously scheduled concert. Game 2 is Sunday night in San Antonio.