Danny Green wasn’t feeling it, no matter how sticky the Miami Heat and the heat made things.
The San Antonio Spurs guard kept missing shots for 31/2 quarters amid sweltering conditions Thursday night inside the AT&T Center, an air-conditioning malfunction turning the arena into a virtual sauna.
Then Green managed to find refuge on the perimeter in the game’s final six minutes, nudging the Spurs past the Miami Heat, 110-95, in Game 1 of the Finals.
He made a trio of three-pointers and a breakaway dunk, his 11-point outburst over a span of 2 minutes 17 seconds helping San Antonio wipe out a seven-point deficit on a night Miami’s LeBron James limped off the court because of cramps with 3:59 left and did not return.
“Every timeout I was screaming at him and encouraging him,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said of Green, who had missed his first five shots, “and I’m very proud of him because you never know when he’s going to [start making shots.”
The heat was almost a bigger story than the Heat as temperatures hovered around a reported 88 degrees on the court. Sweaty fans made makeshift fans out of game programs, pamphlets — pretty much anything they could find — before chanting “Beat the Heat!” during a timeout with 41/2 minutes to go.
It seemed like they were referring to Miami, but it worked either way.
Game 2 is Sunday in San Antonio after a two-day cooling-off period that both teams will happily take.
“I don’t think I’ve played in anything like this since I left the islands,” said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands who finished with 21 points on nine-for-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds while improving to 6-0 in Finals openers. “It was pretty bad out there.”
Fans booed when an announcement was made about the air-conditioning outage resulting from an electric failure, but they spent the latter half of the fourth quarter roaring their approval.
The Spurs closed the game on a 31-9 run, making 10 of their final 11 shots. Meanwhile, the Heat went scoreless over the game’s final 2:46.
The game-turning run started when Green , made three-pointers on consecutive possessions to give the Spurs a 90-88 lead. His final three-pointer extended the advantage to 97-92 and the game-ending rout was on.
“That’s what he does, you know,” San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich said of Green’s three-point shooting. “That’s his major skill. If he’s not going to do that, then we might as well play somebody else.”
San Antonio made an unreal 14 of 16 shots (87.5%) in the fourth quarter, including all six three-pointers, helping to offset their 23 turnovers for the game.
Green finished with 13 points on four-for-nine shooting and was one of five Spurs to score in double figures. Parker’s sore ankle looked just fine as he finished with 19 points and eight assists, and Manu Ginobili added 16 points and 11 assists.
James finished with 25 points, Dwyane Wade had 19 and Chris Bosh 18, and it still wasn’t enough for Miami, the first team to appear in four consecutive Finals since the Boston Celtics from 1984 to ’87.
The Heat seemed poised for one final push when James made a layup to cut the Spurs’ lead to 94-92 with 4:09 left, but he lingered along the baseline while experiencing what he called muscle spasms in his left side before hobbling back to the bench when play was stopped 10 seconds later.
A severely dehydrated James, who had difficulty moving, said he tried to talk his way back into the game but was overruled by his coach.
“After I came out of the game,” James said, “they kinda took off. And it was frustrating sitting out and not being able to help our team.”