- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2007

CLEVELAND — They have been talking about witnessing the evolution of a king in Cleveland. But make no mistake about it, the king of the NBA still resides in southern Texas.

The San Antonio Spurs, who have pulverized the overmatched Cavaliers since the NBA Finals began last week, delivered a final emphatic blow — this time in the form of a 14-3 run near the end of the fourth quarter — to complete their sweep of the Cavaliers with an 83-82 victory, which gave the Spurs their fourth championship in nine seasons.

Finals MVP Tony Parker played another spectacular game for the Spurs, this time notching 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Parker also dished out seven assists.

“It’s like a dream,” said Parker, who said he wanted to win the title for teammate Michael Finley, who had played 12 seasons without championship.

“This never gets old. Never gets old,” said the SpursTim Duncan, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds. “Tony was unbelievable. I’m happy he was on my team.”

Manu Ginobili also had a huge game for the Spurs. Invisible in Game 3 when he went 0-for-7 from the field, Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points.

The Spurs previously won championships in 1999, 2003 and 2005. This series marks the first time they have ever swept an opponent in the finals.

Cleveland, which made its first appearance in the finals in the franchise’s 37-year history, got 24 points and 10 assists from LeBron James. The downside to James‘ output was that he shot just 10-for-30 from the floor and committed six turnovers.

As it has all series long, the Spurs‘ defense proved the difference. The Cavaliers connected on just 38.1 percent of its field goals.

“You have to give San Antonio credit. We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said Cleveland coach Mike Brown, a one-time San Antonio assistant. “That’s a great ball team. A great defensive team.”

The Cavaliers became the eighth team in history to be swept in the finals. Before last night’s loss, the New Jersey Nets — swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 — were the last team to be swept.

The Cavaliers will go down as the most offensively inept team in the history of the finals. They scored just 322 total points for an average of just 80.5 points a game.

The previous record was held by the Baltimore Bullets of 1971. That team, swept by the Milwaukee Bucks, scored just 376 total points and averaged 94 points a game.

Last night’s game turned out to be the most competitive of the series for the Cavaliers mostly because it was the only game among the four that they ever led in the fourth quarter.

Trailing the Spurs 60-52 at the end of three quarters, the Cavaliers opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run, which finally produced their first lead in the second half when James scored on a layup. Another basket from rookie Daniel Gibson gave Cleveland a 63-60 lead that sent the 20,562 fans packed into Quicken Loan Arena into convulsions.

But the euphoria was short lived.

Duncan made running hook shot with 6:33 remaining in the game, sparking a Spurs run that was capped by center Fabricio Oberto converting a layup off a James‘ turnover. San Antonio took a 74-66 lead with 2:01 to play.

“We knew today that if we kept the game close in the fourth quarter we were going to have a great chance, and that’s what happened. We showed our experience and we made great defensive plays, so we are very happy for that,” Ginobili said.

Early on it looked as if the Cavaliers might avert the sweep.

Duncan, the Spurs‘ best player and the reason they have been so good over the last decade, missed all five of his field goal attempts in the first half and was just 2-for-6 from the line by halftime, and it didn’t matter because Parker was, again, having his way with the Cavaliers.

A one-man fastbreak, Parker got into the paint at will in the first half, turning the people assigned to guarding him into shorts-clad spectators.

Parker was 6-for-7 from the field and connected on his lone 3-point attempt in the half for 15 of the Spurs‘ 39 first half points.

James continued to search for his offense. The Cavaliers scored just 34 points in the first half and James was more of an albatross offensively, making just five of his 13 attempts by halftime.

“We just faced a better team this series. It’s as simple as that,” James said. “Everyone has to be better coming into next season.”

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