MIAMI (Reuters) - The San Antonio Spurs restricted LeBron James to 17 points in Game Two of the NBA Finals but were still beaten by 19 as the Miami Heat presented them with a puzzle that few have learned how to deal with.
The risk of not having a LeBron centered gameplan is obvious. Let him get to the paint and he can destroy you single-handedly.
But the conundrum is this: focus your defense on stopping James and you risk giving open shots to his team-mates, who on Sunday delivered in style in the second half.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker acknowledged the team will have to sit down and decide whether to try the same approach again when the series resumes on Tuesday in San Antonio.
“We’ll talk with the coaching staff and see if we’re going to keep doing that,” said the Frenchman.
“Obviously LeBron is unbelievable. He’s going to score. But right now the other players they are playing great, too. So we can’t have both. We’ll see.”
With the series now tied at 1-1, the Spurs begin their three game home stretch in the best of seven series with plenty to ponder.
San Antonio now knows full well that the likes of Mario Chalmers, who top scored with 19 points in Game Two and Ray Allen and Mike Miller, whose three-pointers helped Miami speed away on a 33-5 run, can punish them even when James is struggling.
After the first three quarters James had just eight points on 3-13 shooting.
James started to find his rhythm mid-way through the third but Spurs’ shooting guard Manu Ginobili doesn’t believe that was why his team were blown away.
“I think LeBron is the type of player you have to pay a lot of attention to, and it’s not something that happens that often that he scores less than 20,” Ginobili said.
”But I don’t think that was the difference why they beat us so badly in the second half. In their run, it was Chalmers who scored. We turned the ball over.
”So it wasn’t just LeBron attacking us. It was just the whole Miami team was killing us. We couldn’t get anything going offensively, they got confident and they started to move the ball and rotations were late.
“It wasn’t that he just turned it on. It was Miami that turned it on,” added the Argentine.
James heard plenty of talk after Game One about how he needed to be more aggressive or playing a more central role in Miami’s offense, and while Sunday’s result spoke for itself, the four-time league most valuable player still managed a reply to his critics.
“I don’t really read into it when people want more of me or whatever the case may be. I will continue to find my shooters, if they’re open and I will continue to try to put pressure on the defense,” he said.
”If I draw two, I’ll find my shooters. I have confidence they’re going to knock them down. They did that tonight. Ray, Mike Miller, Rio (Chalmers) made big plays after big plays for us.
“I know I attract a lot of attention. This team has been set up the right way where, when I do attract attention, we have guys that can make plays,” he said.
Editing by Gene Cherry