One Win Away
LeBron James called to get the ball back. Anderson Varejao had other ideas.
The miscommunication couldn't have come at a worse time.
Down by two points as the closing seconds of Game 3 of the NBA finals ticked away, James drove the lane, determined to take the shot.
But he got trapped by a pair of San Antonio defenders then dished to Varejao, a high-energy rebounder who isn't much of a scorer.
After the game, James said he thought he'd get the ball back.
The crowd literally gasped when Varejao appeared like he would pull up for a jumper. Then he drove, spun, threw up a shot and missed - badly.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown spent the entire play screaming for a timeout.
``I'm more tired from yelling timeout 18 times in a row than from the game,'' Brown said. ``It was so loud in there none of my guys heard me. ... I hollered all the way up until Andy shot the ball.''
The Spurs got the rebound, Manu Ginobili hit a few free throws and it was over, 75-72, putting the Spurs ahead 3-0 in the series.
STINGY SPURS: The Spurs and Cavaliers are known for their defense, but they took it to the extreme in the third quarter.
San Antonio outscored Cleveland 15-12 in the period, tying a record for fewest points in a quarter in finals history.
The Spurs were involved in another low scoring quarter as well. They combined with New Jersey for 27 points in the second quarter of Game 3 in 2003. Miami and Dallas scored the same number in the fourth quarter of Game 4 last season.
NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE: The Cavaliers are left looking to salvage at least one win in their first NBA finals.
LeBron James tried to rally his teammates after the game.
``Well, everybody has to still believe,'' James said. ``You know, it is the first of four games, but we dug ourselves a big hole, and we have to come out aggressive.''
Game 4 is Thursday night.
The Cavaliers have been derided by some critics as one of the worst teams to reach the NBA finals. A sweep would certainly help that argument.
Cleveland has gone 43 years without a championship and not even Browns legend Jim Brown - who played for that last title team - could bring any luck to the Cavaliers from his courtside seat.
James talked about winning four straight, but the gravity of their situation seems to have set in.
``You know, the experience factor, we don't like to make any excuse, but it definitely played a part in this finals against a world power team in the Spurs,'' James said.
DONYELL SPEAKS: Donyell Marshall didn't score a point in Game 3, but his words afterward hit their mark.
``For this city to wait so long for us to get to the finals, and to come here and go down 3-0, I think that's the thing that's frustrating and I think this city deserves more,'' Marshall said.
He acknowledged being frustrated with three straight losses and like LeBron James, tried to fire up his teammates.
``If we're going to go down, go down fighting and let the city stand for something ... let the city remember this run,'' Marshall said.
IT'S BASKETBALL TIME: Longtime Cavaliers radio broadcaster Joe Tait may be calling his first NBA finals, but don't expect him to get excited about it.
He's treating each game just like any other he's called over 35 seasons with the Cavaliers.
``It's a big deal for Cleveland. It's a big deal for the team,'' Tait said. ``To me it is just another ballgame. I have to do the same thing for these games that I did all year long.''
The 70-year-old Tait, who starts each broadcast with ``It's basketball time,'' said the postseason crowds at Quicken Loans Arena while loud, don't compare to the blue-collar crowd at the old Richfield Coliseum.
``A lot of folks who were regular customers to the Cavaliers back in those days watch it on TV because they can't afford to come downtown,'' Tait said. ``It's a corporate community. It's three-piece suits. Those people don't scream as loud unless you snitch their wallet.''
Tait wasn't surprised that the Cavaliers looked a little stunned in Game 1. He believes the young team is gaining valuable experience that will serve them well in the future.
And he doesn't mind that he's having to work in June for the first time.
``All I do is just sit and run my mouth. I can do that for a long, long time.''
FOOD FROM FISHER: Though San Antonio knocked out his Utah Jazz one round before the NBA finals, Derek Fisher is in Cleveland, anyway.
The Jazz guard and players' association president will take part in a news conference Wednesday to announce the union's trip to Africa this summer to feed children in Nairobi, Kenya.
Through the ``Feeding One Million'' initiative, the union will partner with Feed The Children to deliver 11 million pounds of rice donated by the Taiwan government in 250 trucks.
``This is a huge accomplishment by the players' association and the players,'' union director Billy Hunter said.
Hunter and Fisher will be joined Wednesday by Feed the Children founder and president Larry Jones, and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy.
Fisher said he ``jumped right on board'' for the trip, his first to Africa, which will likely take place sometime in July. Hunter will finalize the remainder of the roster and itinerary depending on players' availability.
``We obviously understand the food won't last forever and it's not a cure or solution to what is really a worldwide problem,'' said Fisher, who has taken part in food delivery programs in Oakland, Calif. and Las Vegas. ``They can feel positive and experience what's good in the world and in their lives.''
The union has delivered food in a number of NBA cities. Hunter said they organized 190 trailer loads to be delivered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and just this past winter fed 10,000 people in Harlem.
QUARTERBACK SNEAK: Brady Quinn grew up rooting for the Browns - and the Cavaliers, the ones of Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Craig Ehlo.
The former Notre Dame quarterback, drafted by the Browns in the first round in April, was hoping to make it to Game 3 on Tuesday night but had other, more pressing priorities.
``We've got two-a-days tomorrow, so I'll be studying my playbook,'' Quinn said as the Browns opened minicamp on Tuesday. ``Maybe I'll catch it (on TV) here and there, but this is football time for us.''
And what about Game 4?
``That's a different story,'' he said.
NEED TICKETS?: Tickets for Game 3 were selling outside the arena for a minimum of $100 for upper level seats and between $325 and $500 for the lower bowl.
The Cavaliers 0-2 start in the series appeared to have dampened buyers' enthusiasm. Tickets on the club's FlashSeats.com reselling site ranged from $300 to $14,999 before the series started. On Tuesday, prices were $147 to $6,500.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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