The San Antonio Spurs came into Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals in a must-win situation.
With the series tied 1-1 going into San Antonio, the Spurs needed a victory on their home floor to gain much-needed momentum heading into a pivotal Game 4.
San Antonio definitely earned a hard-fought victory, but not from the usual cast of characters.
The main Spur who shouldered the majority of the load for San Antonio was not future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan or point guard Tony Parker.
It was Gary Neal, undrafted and unheralded role player from Towson University.
Neal has been a serviceable player for the Spurs during his three season NBA career, being a solid contributor in relief of Tony Parker while grinding his way in the NBA. Neal seemed to find his niche in the league this season while average 9.5 points per game, however he never performed as well as he did in Game 3.
Tonight, on the biggest stage in basketball, Neal scored a huge 24 points for San Antonio on 9-17 shooting, including 6-10 from three. Neal and shooting guard Danny Green, who scored 27, teamed up to finish off the Heat in Game 3, as they transformed a modest six point halftime lead into 36-point drubbing at the end of the game.
LeBron James was rendered ineffective almost all night, aside from a brief point in the third quarter when he scored nine straight Miami points. James did not live up to his Most Valuable Player status for his team as he scored only 11 points on 33 percent shooting for the game.
Because of a combination of the Spurs lights-out shooting, good for an NBA Finals record 16 three-pointers made, and James’ ineffectiveness on the offensive end, San Antonio coasted to a 113-77 victory and put the Miami Heat on the ropes heading into Thursday’s Game 4 in San Antonio.