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June 15, 2007

 

Sweep success!

Spurs enter rare company with fourth NBA title

Spurs Win

Associated Press/Tony Dejak
San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker (right) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers’ Daniel Gibson in the third quarter of Game 4 of the NBA finals Thursday in Cleveland.

By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND — Once the NBA finals had ended and the trophies and T-shirts were handed out, Tim Duncan and LeBron James paused for a moment in the jam-packed hallway to say goodbye and good luck.
San Antonio’s center was overheard telling Cleveland’s superstar, “The league is going to be yours soon.”
Someday. Not now.
It still belongs to the Spurs — champions again.
And maybe, a dynasty.
Winning its fourth title in nine years, San Antonio cemented itself among the league’s greatest franchises and as the undisputed team of the past decade with an 83-82 win Thursday night and four-game sweep of the Cavaliers.
With their third championship in five years, the defensive-minded Spurs joined the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as the only teams in league history to win four titles.
“A team for the ages,” commissioner David Stern said before handing over the Larry O’Brien trophy to Spurs owner Peter Holt.
MVP Tony Parker scored 24 points and Manu Ginobili had 27 — 13 in the fourth quarter — as the Spurs held off a frantic rally by James and the Cavaliers, who were overmatched from the start in their first every visit to the finals.
“We definitely faced a better team in this series,” said James, whose first finals was both humbling and educational. “They never got rattled. They never sped up. They kept us off balance. I think we learned as good as we thought we were, there was still a team out there that was better than us.”
San Antonio’s impressive run of titles — 1999, 2003, 2005 and now 2007 — under coach Gregg Popovich has earned the Spurs the right to be mentioned as a dynasty. But Parker, the first European-born player to win MVP honors, wasn’t worried about any place other than one he was living in.
“I don’t care where we fall in history,” said Parker, wrapped in the French flag. “I just feel blessed, honored and privileged to play on a team like this.”
And what a team it is.
In Parker, Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs have three players who can dominate at any time, but it’s the clubs reserves who make San Antonio special.
Earlier this season, they Spurs weren’t themselves and the ever-demanding Popovich criticized his squad, calling it the worst defensive one he had coached. San Antonio was 33-18 at the time, “struggling” by its lofty standards, but it wasn’t long before they started playing Spurs basketball.
The Spurs beat Denver, Phoenix and Utah to win the Western Conference title and then stormed through the Cavs, who were exposed during four games that looked competitive on the scoreboard but were hardly even close.
“This one’s sweeter,” said Duncan, the common denominator during the club’s dynastic stretch. “This was as tough as we ever had it. Guys persevered.”
As the final seconds ticked off, Duncan stood at center court with both arms raised triumphantly as the rest of the Spurs danced around him. He sought out Cleveland’s Eric Snow, but was unable to find James, who had walked off the floor so he didn’t have to watch the celebration.
“I didn’t want to look at it,” James said.
The final moments were hectic as the Spurs needed every last free throw to hold off the Cavaliers, who made a last stand at home in a season of seasons for their once downtrodden franchise and for a city still waiting for its first title since 1964.
Cleveland went on an 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter, taking its first lead in any second half of the series on James’ drive with 7:55 left. Cleveland went up 63-60 on Daniel Gibson’s drive, but that’s when Duncan and Co. showed why they’re champions.
Ginobili scored inside, was fouled and missed his free throw. But Duncan muscled into the lane and tipped in the miss to make it 66-63. The Cavs tied it, but Ginobili, who didn’t make a field goal in Game 3, dropped a 3-pointer, and when James missed a 3, the Spurs regained control by outworking Cleveland.
Duncan and Fabricio Oberto scrapped for offensive rebounds as the Spurs kept the ball for nearly two minutes before Oberto’s three-point play made it 72-66 with 2:29 remaining. Duncan then poked the ball away from James and Oberto scored underneath to give San Antonio a 74-66 lead.
James, possibly a little tired following the early morning birth of his second son, hit another 3-pointer but Ginobili responded again with a runner in the lane to make it 76-69.
Damon Jones made three free throws and James made another 3-pointer, but Ginobili made four free throws in the final seven seconds and immediately began celebrating a title that was all but inevitable.
“We’re an old team. We’ve been there,” Parker said. “We knew Cleveland was going to make a run, so we just let the storm go by. We never had panic on our team, never.”
Parker, who averaged 24.5 points on 57 percent shooting, had been viewed mostly as a pretty decent player with a prettier fiancee, TV actress Eva Longoria.
The 25-year-old, though, was an unstoppable, silver-and-black blur against the Cavs, who had no one who could contain him and who looked like they stumbled into their first finals by accident.
James had Cleveland fans believing the city’s 43-year championship drought was about to end. However, he had a rough introduction to the league’s climactic event, one he figures to reach again.
He shot just 10-of-30 in Game 4 — and only 36 percent in the series — and never figured out how to rise above or get around the Spurs, whose defensive schemes were designed to make the other Cavaliers beat them.
James scored 24 points, and while he took the Cavaliers as far as they’ve ever gone, he failed to give them new life in this series on the same day his second son, Bryce Maximus James, was born.
“I need to get better,” he said, “and once I get better, our team will automatically get better.”
Duncan had only 12 points — on 4-of-15 shooting — but grabbed 15 rebounds. His arrival in 1997 in San Antonio is the launching point for the Spurs’ ascension, and while he secured his fourth ring, he helped others like Michael Finley and Jacque Vaughn win their first.
Finley cradled the game ball during the postgame celebration.
“I might just put it in the bed between me and my wife,” he said.
Notes: With four titles, Popovich trails only Red Auerbach (9), Phil Jackson (9), John Kundla (5) and Pat Riley (5) for the most in league history. ... Cleveland’s 322 points in the series was the lowest total for four games. ... The Spurs’ .727 winning percentage (16-6) is the highest in finals history. ... New England quarterback Tom Brady and Browns rookie Brady Quinn were among the celebrities on hand, along with Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens and Hall of Famer Franco Harris.

 

 

 

Quali-D gets breathing room

Quali-D Automotive opened up some breathing room at the top of the Cortland City Men’s Slowpitch Softball League C Division standings. Quali-D improved to 9-2 with an 11-6 win over second-place CCRP (8-4).
In other C Division contests, King Sub pounded K&H Motor Sports 30-3 and Graph Tex Collegiate Catastrophe downed T.J. Landscaping 16-7.
In B Division play, Friends shutout The Tavern 18-0, Beach House edged NAPA 10-8 and Palm Gardens nipped X-treme Performance 17-16.
In A Division, Central City Bar & Grill defeated St. Charles Hotel 18-7.
C DIVISION
Quali-D Automotive 11, CCRP 6: Art Buchanan, Jr. and John Cavanugh each went 3-for-4 with a home run to power the Quali-D offensive attack. Mike Wehnke added a 3-fr-4 effort with a triple.
Rob Benson was 3-for-3 with a double for CCRP with Richie Price going 2-for-3 with a triple.
King Sub 30, K&H Motor Sports 0: Bob Stewart went 5-for-5 to help King Sub roll to victory. Andy Warholic (5 RBIs) and Bob Gable (3 RBIs) each added three hits.
Jeremy Sutton and Billy O. were each 2-for-2 for K&H.
Graph Tex 16, T.J. Landscaping 7: Brian Bruce was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs as the Collegiate Catastrophe notched its third win of the season. Blake Battin added a 3-for-4 effort with two doubles and 2 RBIs while Jordan Pedersen was 3-for-4 with three ribbies.
B DIVISION
Friends 18, The Tavern 0: Tim Robison hit for the cycle while Chris Willcox also went 4-for-4 for Friends. Mike Russell added a 3-for-3 bat with a home run for the winners.
Jerrod Newcomb went 2-for-3 while Jason Newcomb went 2-for-2 for The Tavern.
Beach House 10, NAPA 8: Matt Rutowski was 3-for-4 with a home run as Beach House posted its fifth straight win. B. Dyer was 4-for-4 for NAPA.
Palm Gardens 17, X-treme Performance 16: In a tightly-contested game, Palm Gardens scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, including a walk-off grand-slam home run by Andrew Jordan, to posted the victory.
A DIVISION
Central City Bar & Grill 18, St. Charles Hotel 7: Central City built an 11-3 lead through the first three innings to pull away in this victory. Dennis Hopkins led the Grillers by going 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. Fred Ott also drove in five runs for the winners by going 3-for-4 with two triples.
Eric Hubbard and Tim Marshall each went 2-for-4 for St. Charles.

 

 

 

Dryden TTC perfect; Eagles win slugfest

Dryden TTC banged out 17 hits Thursday night and improved to 3-0 in Cortland County Senior Babe Ruth play with a 15-3 win over Marathon Sautter Construction. The Homer Yankees beat Cortland Alliance 8-0 and Cortland Moose was a 6-4 winner over DeRuyter in other Senior Division games.
In the Junior Division, the Cortland Eagles shaded Cortland Exchange 13-12 while Groton beat the Cortland Elks 13-5 and the Homer White Sox beat Dryden APM Testing 16-3.
SENIOR DIVISION
Dryden TTC 15, Marathon Sautter 3: Winning pitcher Wayne Dougherty and Pat Perkins had two doubles apiece for the winners, while Cory Goodenough and Matt Colbert had one each. Ryan DeMann doubled in the losing cause.
Homer Yankees 8, Cortland Alliance 0: Zach Blanden and Alex Duell teamed up for a three-hit shutout for the Yankees. Blanden wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the third and threw one-hit ball for four innings, Duell fanning four over the final two frames. Eric Rosato (double) and Zach Randolph had three hits each for the Yankees, while losing pitcher Matt Carr had eight strikeouts.
Cortland Moose 6, DeRuyter 4: Winning pitcher Garrett Wyatt helped himself by going 3-for-4 and scoring twice, while Cody Smith pitched the final three innings with five strikeouts to earn a save. Brett Vosburg doubled for DeRuyter.
JUNIOR DIVISION
Cortland Eagles 13, Cortland Exchange 12: Ryan Flatt (double) had three hits and winning pitcher Kevin Shaw, Jordan Southworth and Shane Stiles two hits apiece for the Eagles. Flatt escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the seventh.
Groton 13, Cortland Elks 5: Groton scored four times in the first and third innings and was never headed in its season-opener. Logan Wannall, Isiah Young, Brian Chaffee and Jon Sweazy each had a double for the winners, as did Brandon Babcock and Lucas Bush for the Elks.
Homer White Sox 16, Dryden APM 3: Nate Parker (two doubles, two RBIs) and Matt Compton (double, two RBIs) both went 4-for-5 to lead a 21-hit White Sox attack. Brent Quinlan went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Brian Bartleson 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, while winning pitcher Zephan Kash went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and fanned five in throwing a complete game.