MIAMI — The hot-shooting San Antonio Spurs moved within one win of their fifth NBA title since 1999, defeating the Miami Heat 107-86 Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Spurs shot 57.1 percent from the floor en route to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. None of the 31 previous teams to fall behind by that deficit in the league championship series rallied to take the title.
Game 5 is Sunday night in San Antonio.
San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, and point guard Tony Parker added 19 points. Forwards Tim Duncan (10 points and 11 rebounds) and Boris Diaw (eight points, nine rebounds and a game-high nine assists) also played well.
Forward LeBron James led the Heat with 28 points, but center Chris Bosh (12 points) and guard Dwyane Wade (10 points) were held in check. Through three quarters, Wade was just 1-for-10 from the floor.
Miami had won 13 consecutive games following a playoff loss, but that streak is over. The Heat had played 48 straight playoff games without losing consecutively. Those 48 games rank as the third-longest streak in NBA history, surpassed only by the 1962-1966 Boston Celtics (54) and the 1990-93 Chicago Bulls (52).
The Heat, the two-time defending league champions, lost both of their home games this week and now have no margin for error.
Meanwhile, San Antonio has won three straight road games, including the victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that clinched the Western Conference title.
Overall, the Spurs have 11 wins by more than 15 points in this postseason.
The Spurs outscored the Heat in each of the first three quarters, heading into the fourth with an 81-57 lead.
James, who took a bathroom break in the first half and reportedly was struggling with stomach issues, scored 19 points in the third. He was brilliant, making seven of eight shots, including two of three from 3-point range. He also made three of four free throws.
However, the Spurs converted on 52.6 percent from the floor, the third consecutive quarter in which they made more shots than they missed.
In the first three games of the series, San Antonio outscored Miami in the first quarter by a combined total of 29 points. That trend continued Thursday as the Spurs shot 56.3 percent from the floor and led 26-17 after one period.
The Spurs made three of five 3-point attempts and had a 6-0 lead in fast-break points, a stat the Heat generally dominates. Miami shot just 35 percent, including 1-for-5 on 3-pointers.
San Antonio stretched its lead to 55-36 at halftime. The Spurs led by as many as 22 points in the second quarter. They shot 55 percent in the second quarter and 55.6 percent in the first half.
Miami shot 35.7 percent in the second quarter and 35.3 percent for the half.
NOTES: With his 14th minute Thursday, Spurs PF Tim Duncan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most postseason playing time in NBA history. … Entering Thursday, Spurs F Boris Diaw had the best plus-minus of any player in the Finals at plus-45. … Spurs F Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points Tuesday, his highest total since high school. … Instead of practicing Wednesday, the Heat watched video of Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Spurs. Heat G Dwyane Wade said the focus was how to stop Leonard, and part of the plan was to force him right. … Since the shot clock was instituted in 1954, San Antonio owns the two greatest-shooting quarters in NBA Finals history: the fourth quarter of Game 1 (87.5 percent) and the first quarter of Game 3 (86.7 percent).
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