SAN ANTONIO &
Once Cleveland's stirring comeback ended and the Cavaliers had finally succumbed for the second time in these NBA finals, giddy Spurs fans began dreaming of another finish.
"Sweep, Sweep!" they sang in the hallways of ATT Center.
Coach Gregg Popovich didn't join them.
"We don't think about sweeps or anything like that," he said. "We always plan for a long, drawn-out, seven-game series. We plan for seven all the time."
Might be time to change those plans, Pop.
Tony Parker scored 30 points, Manu Ginobili 25 and Tim Duncan added 23 as the Spurs moved halfway to a fourth championship by dominating Cleveland for 31/2 quarters and beating the Cavaliers 103-92 on Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
Except for a fourth-quarter letdown when they allowed the Cavs to cut a 27-point lead to eight, the Spurs were in control. They took advantage of early foul trouble against LeBron James and easily pushed around the Eastern Conference champions, who have to hope the 1,500-mile trip home can fix their problems.
Right now, they've got a bunch of them.
"We have to make some adjustments," said Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. "They're outhustling us. They're playing harder than us. That's all there is to it."
The Spurs, clicking on offense and digging their sneakers in on defense, were up by 11 after one, 25 at half and 27 after three, thoroughly embarrassing the Cavaliers, whose first visit to the finals couldn't be going worse.
In the first half, the Spurs' Big — of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined for 43 points &
10 more than the Cavs &
and as both teams walked off the floor, the arena's p.a. 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."
James, limited to 14 points in his finals debut, scored 25 Sunday on 9-of-21 shooting to lead Cleveland. But the Cavaliers' superstar played less than three minutes in the first quarter because of foul trouble, sitting when the Spurs ran away to their huge lead.
"It doesn't matter if we lose by — or if we lose by 30, a loss is a loss," James said. "We've been down 2-0 before. We have to find a way to bring the intensity to Game 3."
The Cavaliers, who also came out flat in Game 1, used a 22-4 spurt to pull within 95-87 on a three-point play by James with 4:53 left, a stunning turnaround for a team that looked done minutes earlier.
However, the Spurs, who got sloppy and perhaps disinterested, responded as they almost always do.
Ginobili stopped Cleveland's rally by hitting a 3-pointer and 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," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He tricked our young fella and leaned right into him."
Gibson's 3-pointer got the Cavs 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 Cavs' 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."
With two more victories, small-market San Antonio, often overlooked in the conversation of great teams, can join the Boston Celtics (16 titles), Los Angeles Lakers (14) and Chicago Bulls (6) as franchises with at least four championships.
"Four for Four" has become the popular catchphrase among San Antonio fans in these finals, and the Spurs are making it stick.
"We took what was ours," Ginobili said. "We just maintained home-court advantage."
Game — is Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, which has never hosted a finals game and may only end up holding two unless the Cavaliers, who were down 0-2 to Detroit in the conference finals, can put together four solid quarters.
"They came out the way we were supposed to come out," Ilgauskas said. "They got all the loose balls again. Before we know it we were down 20 points. We got that feeling like the whole game we were running uphill with a hundred-pound bag around our backs."
Parker, the Spurs' petite Frenchman, was magnifique.
He went 13-for-20 from the field, spun his way through defenders at will and made the Cavaliers look like shorts-wearing statues. Parker kept pushing the action in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to the delight of fiance Eva Longoria and Spurs fans, who aren't ready to plan any parades just yet.
In the 2005 finals, the Spurs won the first two games against Detroit but had to go seven to win the title.
"I remember," Ginobili said. "It was really embarrassing. Hopefully the guys that were in that finals learned from that."
The Cavaliers can also look to last year's finals for comfort. Miami lost Games — and 2 in Dallas before going home to Florida and winning three straight and then beating the Mavericks on their home floor for their first championship.
"We're definitely still confident," James said. "We've been down 2-0 before and we have to find a way to get back the intensity we had in the fourth quarter and carry it into Game 3." Notes:
Spurs F Robert Horry, seeking a seventh NBA title, had five blocks. ... Duncan, who had eight assists and nine rebounds, is second in career blocks in finals history with 63 behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had 116. ... The Spurs are just the fourth franchise to play in four finals in a nine-year span since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976-77. ... Gibson led the Cavs with 16 points in the series opener, becoming the first rookie to lead his team in scoring in a Game — since Phoenix's Alvan Adams in 1976.
Spurs not thinking about Finals sweep just yet
SAN ANTONIO &