SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tim Duncan had 10 points and seven rebounds and Gary Neal scored 14 points to help the San Antonio Spurs take a 50-44 halftime lead over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
Neal was 4 for 6 from 3-point range, including one just before the halftime buzzer, and Kawhi Leonard added seven points and five rebounds in the first finals game in San Antonio since 2007.
Dwyane Wade got off to another quick start for the Heat, scoring 12 points with five assists and three steals. Mike Miller hit three 3-pointers, but LeBron James once again got off to a quiet start with four points on 2-for-8 shooting to go six assists and four boards.
Game 4 is Thursday in San Antonio.
Chris Bosh had 10 points and five rebounds for the defending champion Heat.
Tony Parker scored just six points, but had seven assists for San Antonio, which is in search of championship No. 5.
The Spurs came home to their devoted fans with a split in the series, but reeling a little after James, Wade and Mario Chalmers thumped them 103-84 in Game 2.
The Spurs stormed out to an early 11-4 lead, receiving an expected jolt of energy after Manu Ginobili, Duncan and Parker combined to go 10 for 33 from the field in the blowout loss on Sunday.
Ginobili threw down a two-handed dunk to get the crowd going and give the Spurs a 17-12 lead and Parker had four assists in the first quarter, finding the slimmest of openings in the aggressive Heat defense that were nowhere to be found on Sunday in Miami.
Miami came right back, using a 3-pointer from Miller and hot shooting from Wade, who made four of his five shots.
Norris Cole's 3-pointer brought the Heat to 27-26 early in the second quarter, but Matt Bonner hit a pair of free throws and Danny Green hit a corner 3-pointer to push it back to 32-26.
Parker then slipped a pick-and-roll pass in between the fingertips of James and Bosh to Duncan for a layup, Neal hit a midrange jumper and Duncan found Leonard on a rare leak out for an easy dunk to push the lead to 10 points, giving the Spurs a rare bit of breathing room in this series.
James has had an unusually difficult time scoring in these finals, entering the game averaging a pedestrian 17.5 points on 41 percent shooting. He posted his two lowest scoring outputs — 18 and 17 — in the two games in Miami, with the Spurs forcing him to be a jumpshooter and determined not to let him attack the rim.
James has been content getting others involved, preferring to find Wade, Miller and his supporting cast for open shots rather than force anything like he used to do in Cleveland. He and Bosh started out a combined 3 for 11, and the four-time MVP appeared to grow frustrated late in the second quarter. He slammed both hands on the press table after a 1 for 6 start, then got a layup in transition with just over two minutes to play in the half for his first points of the second quarter.
Wade's drive tied the score 44-44, but the Spurs closed the half with a 6-0 burst in an appropriately heart-pounding first half between two such evenly matched teams.
It was the first time since 2007 that a finals game was played in San Antonio, a proud military city that had grown accustomed to hosting the NBA's biggest event in the middle of the last decade. The Spurs won three titles in five seasons during that span, and the core of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili were back for one more this time around.
They've waited a long time to see another one — Parker said it felt like "forever" to him — and let their voices be heard early in Game 3.
The crowd chanted "Go Spurs Go!" as the lights dimmed before the game, a familiar refrain that could be seen all across town this week — on the backs of taxi cabs, hanging from banners on buildings and even being chanted by kids appearing on a local morning show.
The uncommon stability in the organization has struck a cord with the fans here, who have watched their core grow up and grow old right in front of their eyes. They watched from afar as their team squeaked out Game 1 in Miami thanks in large part to an incredible shot by Parker in the closing moments.
James and the Heat responded emphatically in Game 2, ripping off a 30-5 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to blow the Spurs out and snatch all the momentum.
If any team was prepared to enter the hostile AT&T Center and get a victory, it was the Heat. They've won on the road in every series of the playoffs and have been the target of intense scrutiny ever since James, Wade and Bosh united three years ago to chase championships.
They already have one championship in hand and a victory in Game 3 would go a long way toward a second. Of the last 12 NBA Finals to split the first two games, 11 of the Game 3 winners have gone on to capture the trophy.