- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — Two down, two to go. The San Antonio Spurs are halfway to a fourth title and a chance to state their case as an NBA dynasty.

Tony Parker scored 30 points, Manu Ginobili had 25 and Tim Duncan added 23 as the Spurs enlightened Cleveland in championship basketball for 3½ quarters, overpowering the Cavaliers 103-92 in Game 2 last night to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

San Antonio was vastly superior in every way imaginable — until relaxing in the fourth quarter — when the Cavaliers stormed back within eight before the Spurs finally put them away for good.

“That’s why sometimes it’s hard to play with a 20-point lead,” Parker said. “We’re humans.”

The Spurs, clicking on offense and digging their sneakers in on defense, built a 28-point lead in the first half and were embarrassing the Cavaliers, who are in their first finals but didn’t show up until it was too late.

The Spurs‘ big three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined for 43 points — 10 more than the Cavaliers — in the first half, and as both teams walked off the floor of AT&T; Center, the arena’s public address announcer, Stan Kelly, summed up the first 24 minutes with a comment that would have been funny if it wasn’t so painfully true for Cleveland.

Spurs by a bunch,” he said.

And at the same time, a fan held up a sign saying, “Bring Out LeBroom.”

LeBron James, limited to 14 points in his finals debut, scored 25 to lead the Cavaliers. Cleveland’s superstar got into early foul trouble and played less than three minutes in the first quarter, sitting when the Spurs ran away to their huge lead.

Down by 25 points at halftime and 27 after three, the Cavaliers went on a 22-4 run and eventually pulled within 95-87 on a three-point play by James with 4:53 left, a stunning turnaround for a team that looked done moments earlier.

But the Western Conference champions, who got sloppy and perhaps disinterested, responded as they almost always do.

Ginobili hit a 3-pointer as he was fouled by rookie Daniel Gibson. The four-point play made it 101-89 with 2:24 remaining.

“That was a heck of a play and a heck of a shot by Manu,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “He tricked our young fella and leaned right into him.”

Gibson’s 3-pointer got the Cavaliers within nine, but Duncan grabbed a rebound and scored inside to bail out the Spurs, who were outscored 30-14 in the fourth quarter.

“We knew it was coming,” Parker said of the Cavaliers’ comeback. “They are an NBA team and have LeBron James. They played very good in the fourth quarter. They made a big run, but in the end we made a couple of stops and got the win.”

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