James, Heat jump out to early lead over Spurs

Associated Press
San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) of Brazil, heads to the hoop as Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) looks on during the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals, Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) of Brazil, heads to the hoop as Miami Heat forward LeBron …

MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James had six points, four rebounds and two assists to help the Miami Heat take a 24-23 lead over the San Antonio Spurs after one quarter in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

Chris Bosh added five points, and Ray Allen drilled a 3-pointer from the wing for the Heat, who are looking for their second straight championship.

Tony Parker had six points, and Danny Green hit two corner 3s for the Spurs, who are in the Finals for the first time since they won their fourth title in 2007. Tim Duncan went 0 for 5 from the field, but did have five rebounds and three assists for the Spurs.

Game 2 is Sunday night in Miami.

The first quarter was every bit as tight as this series is expected to be.

The Spurs swept Memphis in the Western Conference finals to give banged up veterans Manu Ginobili, Parker and Duncan some much-needed recovery time while the Heat suffered through a rugged seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers.

The Spurs showed little rust in the early going, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the first 2 minutes when Green hit a corner 3-pointer to force a timeout from Miami.

But Bosh, who struggled mightily in the Eastern Conference finals, hit a couple of mid-range jumpers to get the Heat going and James' layup midway through the first quarter gave Miami its first lead at 13-11.

One of the biggest keys for Miami in the series is going to be finding a way to contain Parker, the jitterbug point guard who has been at the top of his game in these playoffs. He got off to a fast start on Thursday night, even though the Heat through almost everything they had at him.

All five Heat starters, including James, found themselves squared up on Parker at some point in the first period.

Even in a city that has occasionally been accused of being less than passionate toward its sports teams, including the wildly successful, LeBron-led Heat, there was a palpable buzz in the arena long before tipoff. The notoriously late-arriving crowd arrived a little earlier, intent on soaking up the atmosphere of a matchup that Commissioner David Stern called "probably the most anticipated Finals in, who knows, 30 years."

Stern may have been exaggerating, but the energy seemed to match the hype of two teams that have been on a collision course arguably since Russell Westbrook's injury essentially took the Oklahoma City Thunder out of contention last month.

These two proud franchises are so similar, yet so different.

The defending champion Heat hail from South Beach, with outsized stars who fit right into the glitzy, glamorous lifestyle that comes with it. They were bought and meticulously tailored like one of President Pat Riley's designer suits, with James, Wade and Bosh joining forces to chase titles. They picked up their first last year against the Thunder, but face an arguably greater challenge going for the repeat against the veteran Spurs, who aren't cowed by a white-clad crowd or a four-time MVP.

The Spurs, the only show in town back home in San Antonio, were built the old fashioned way — through drafting and development. Parker, Duncan and Ginobili might be the most understated stars in the league and play for a blue-collar coach who shuns the spotlight.

The differences in personality are matched by their similarities in playing style. Both value ball movement above all else, have a trio of stars that are supported by a group of role players selected specifically to enhance their stars' games and would prefer to get up and down the court rather than slug it out in the paint.

The last time the Spurs were here, they won their fourth title by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers and a young LeBron James in 2007. Now Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are on one last ride, one final push. And again, James stands in their way.

In the end, it had to be this way.

"These are two of the best teams in the league," Bosh said. "Whoever wins, they're going to have to play the best basketball because it's going to be the hardest they've ever done."

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