June 12, 2007


Spurs closing in on another title


Associated Press/Amy Sancetta
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James pleads his case with Bob Delaney at the close of Cleveland’s 75-72 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland on Tuesday.

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND — The San Antonio Spurs plod along, poised and purposeful in everything they do.
They prefer fundamentals over flash, substance over style. The approach has made them champions before.
And most likely will again.
The Spurs, currently the closest thing to a dynasty in professional sports, moved within one win of their fourth NBA title in nine years on Tuesday night, wrecking a party Cleveland waited 37 years to throw with a 75-72 win over the Cavaliers in Game 3.
No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the finals, and the overmatched Cavaliers, making their first appearance, are giving no indication they’ll even threaten to make this series competitive.
“This,” said LeBron James, “is all about them.”
Tony Parker scored 17 points, Tim Duncan 14 and Bruce Bowen, the Spurs’ defensive sheriff, added 13 for San Antonio, seeking its fourth title since 1999 and third in the past five seasons.
The Spurs won despite being outrebounded, making more turnovers and getting only three points from Manu Ginobili, who missed all seven field-goal attempts and didn’t score until there was 10.4 seconds left.
That’s when he dropped the first of three straight free throws to help hold off the Cavaliers and crush the hopes of their rowdy, towel-waving crowd, which had never before seen their team play a finals game in person.
Cleveland’s chances, and maybe their last hopes of extending the season, ended when James, who led the Cavaliers with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
He appeared to be fouled before the attempt by Bowen, but there was no whistle.
“Incidental contact,” James said. “It didn’t affect my shot. I had a good look at it and I missed.”
Bowen, who had just nine points in the first two games, scored 13 and Brent Barry made three 3-pointers for the Spurs, who can all but plan their victory parade on the scenic Riverwalk back home.
“We need to get one more, and that’s it, however it comes,” Duncan said. “We know they’re going to come out this next game, they don’t want to get swept.”
The Spurs can secure another title with a win in Game 4 on Thursday night. If they do complete the eighth sweep in finals history, they’ll join the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as the only franchises to win four or more titles.
The Cavs, though, aren’t ready to fold just yet.
“We can’t live on history, but we have dug ourselves a big hole, and we know that,” James said. “We have to come out and try to win four straight.”
The grind-it-out Game 3 tied for the second-fewest points in NBA finals history, matching San Antonio’s 80-67 win over the New York Knicks in 1999.
The 22-year-old James scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, threatening to take over as he did in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, with drives through the teeth of San Antonio’s smothering defense.
But James had several layups dance off the rim, and he got little help from his teammates as the Cavs went just 3-of-19 on 3-pointers and failed to take advantage on a night when the Spurs were not themselves.
All James can do now is try to prevent a sweep by the Spurs, who are 48 minutes from adding a 2007 title to the ones they captured in 1999, 2003 and 2005. Every other year, it seems to be San Antonio’s turn, and this one is no different.
James scored seven straight points as the Cavs cut a 10-point lead to 69-67 with 1:22 remaining on another layup by Cleveland’s star. But Parker countered with a 3-pointer before Sasha Pavlovic hit a deep one for the Cavs to make it 72-70 with 48.1 seconds remaining.
Parker, so dominant in Games 1 and 2, turned the ball over but the Cavs failed to capitalize as James, criticized early in the playoffs for being too unselfish, got bottled up and passed to Anderson Varejao.
The mop-topped Brazilian, nicknamed “Wild Thing,” tried to make a spin move on Duncan before flinging up a wild shot. James expected a return pass from Varejao, but it never came.
“Miscommunication,” James said.
What made it more frustrating for Cleveland was that coach Mike Brown was screaming for a timeout that no one heard.
“I was yelling, ‘Timeout, timeout,”’ Brown said. “It was so loud in there none of my guys heard me, and I asked (referee) Bernie Fryer if he heard me, and he looked at me and said, ‘No.’ There was nothing I could do.”
Ginobili was then fouled, missed his first throw but finally got something to fall through the net to give the Spurs a three-point lead. James again got to the rim for a basket before Ginobili hit two more.
On Cleveland’s last trip, James began to rise for a potential tying 3-pointer when he was grabbed by Bowen. But nothing was called, the ball bounced off the rim and the Spurs inched closer to a title.
The Cavaliers changed their starting lineup as rookie Daniel Gibson replaced Larry Hughes at point guard. Hughes was bothered by a sore left foot, but Gibson, who has emerged as a star in these playoffs, didn’t help.
He went just 1-for-10 from the field and missed all five 3-pointers, unable to duplicate his 5-for-5 performance when Cleveland captured the Eastern Conference title in Game 6 against Detroit.
“I’d rather not give excuses for not making shots,” Gibson said.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 12 points and 18 rebounds — 10 offensive — for the Cavaliers, who were hoping three straight games in their own building could help them get back into the best-of-seven series.
Instead, the Spurs have nearly wrapped it up.
Notes: The teams combined for 27 points in the third quarter, the lowest-scoring third quarter in finals history. ... Among the courtside celebrities were a pair of famous Jims — Browns legend Jim Brown and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who sat next to each other. Also on hand were former Buckeyes center and likely No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. ... The Spurs are the 12th team to take a 3-0 lead in the finals and first since the Lakers in 2002.




Classic trip for White

Cortland High Senior Joel White will be one of four incoming Syracuse lacrosse players scheduled to appear in the second annual Under Armour All-America Classic Saturday at Loyola College in Maryland.
Midfielders Jovan Miller (from Syracuse CBA, Josh Amidon from LaFayette and White are Orange recruits competing for the North Team. Goalie John Galloway from West Genesee is a member of the South roster.
The game will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Diane Geppi-Aikens field and be televised live on ESPNU.
The Under Armour All-America teams were organized by Inside Lacrosse Magazine and selected by Syracuse lacrosse legend Gary Gait. A full day of events will surround the game, beginning with the STX Lacrosse Youth Clinic at 9:00 a.m. There will also be D.C. vs. Baltimore Boys and Girls Underclassmen games, as well as the All-American Girls game.
 White ranked in the top five in the area in scoring with 55 goals and 48 assists. He led Cortland to a runner-up finish in the Section III Class B Championship, losing to eventual state champion Jamesville-DeWitt.
The coaches for this year’s event are Huntington’s Paul McDermott (North) and Bryan Kelly (South) from Calvert Hall’s in Maryland.




McCrory wins UFC debut by submission

SEMINOLE, Fla. — Even though Tamdan McCrory did not make in onto the televised portion of last night’s Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night, his evening was still a success.
The student at the Central New York Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Polkville would win his UFC debut Tuesday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
McCrory defeated Pete Spratt by submission at the 1:04 mark of the second round in a battle of 170-pounders, Spratt tapping out after being caught by a triangle choke applied by the 20-year-old former Ithaca High wrestler.
It was the first appearance in a three-fight dead McCrory signed recently with the UFC.
“He took some hard shots to the head and ended up fighting back,” said trainer and CNYMMAA co-owner Erik Charles of the McCrory effort. Spratt had early success with some elbows and body-slammed his 6-foot-4 opponent to the mats, only to have McCrory able to tighten up the second triangle choke maneuver he tried in the match to put an end to things.
McCrory is unbeaten at 10-0 and is looking forward to a second UFC appearance, though that next match has not been planned yet according to Charles.