Basketball: Spurs edge Cavaliers to complete sweep to NBA crown

The San Antonio Spurs captured their fourth title in nine seasons here Thursday, defeating Cleveland 83-82 to complete a four-game sweep of the National Basketball Association Finals.

Manu Ginobili scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter while Tony Parker added 24 points and Tim Duncan had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs to conclude the best-of-seven championship series.

French guard Parker, who will marry actress Eva Longoria next month, became the first European player named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals, averaging nearly 25 points a game to spark the Spurs' offense.

"It's like a dream," Parker said.

San Antonio won previous crowns in 1999, 2003 and 2005. Coach Gregg Popovich and forward Duncan have been part of all four Spurs championship teams.

Only Boston, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers have won more on the NBA's all-time champions list.


The Cavaliers were the eighth team in NBA history to be swept in the final, the first since the Los Angeles Lakers blanked New Jersey in 2002, and failed in their bid for Cleveland's first title in any major sport since 1964.

Argentina's Ginobili sank six tension-packed free throws in the last 24 seconds to give the Spurs the victory, but it took the hardest-fought effort of the lopsided series as Cleveland scored nine points in the last 7.5 seconds.

Cleveland's Damon Jones trimmed San Antonio's lead to 79-76 with 7.5 seconds to play but Ginobili sank two free throws to boost the bulge back to five.

LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers with 24 points despite shooting only 10-of-30, sank a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 81-79 but again Ginobili answered with two free throws.

Jones sank an uncontested layup at the final buzzer but that only made the final margin smaller on a night when the Cavaliers could have won.

With the game deadlocked at 66-66, Ginobili hit a 3-pointer with 4:10 to play and Argentine compatriot Fabricio Oberto followed with a 3-point play and an inside basket to give the Spurs a 74-66 edge with 2:00 to play, setting up the frantic finish.

The Cavaliers had never led in the second half in the first three games but the Spurs, ahead 39-34 at half-time, could not deny them again in game four despite owning an 11-point lead in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Parker scored seven points, Ginobili added five and Duncan had four in a 17-9 run early in the third quarter that gave the Spurs their largest lead to that point at 56-45. James made only 1-of-7 shots in the third quarter.

Duncan scored with 56 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Spurs a 60-49 edge but San Antonio would not score again for 7:28, an 0-for-8 stretch with two turnovers that revived the downcast Cavaliers.

Cleveland scored 14 consecutive points after Duncan's basket, a run that began with a Daniel Gibson 3-pointer late in the third period and ended with a Gibson layup to give the Cavaliers a 63-60 lead with 6:53 to play.

Donyell Marshall came off the Cleveland bench for back-to-back baskets and a free throw to open the fourth quarter. James followed with back-to-back baskets in the run.

Parker made his first six shots, scoring 15 points in the first half to spark the Spurs to a 39-34 half-time lead.

James, who became a father for the second time earlier Thursday when his girlfriend gave birth to Bryce Maximus James, had just nine first-half points on 4-of-13 shooting.

The Cavaliers had 322 points in four games, the fewest total points of any team in NBA Finals history, the old mark being 376 by Baltimore in 1971 when swept by Milwaukee.

The Spurs' six international players are the most of any NBA champion, including Parker, Virgin Islander Tim Duncan, Argentina's Ginobili and Oberto, Dutchman Francisco Elson and Slovenian Beno Udrih.

San Antonio's Michael Finley won his first title after 12 NBA seasons while 15-year veteran Robert Horry captured his seventh career crown, the most of any player not on the powerful Boston Celtics teams of the 1960s and 1970s.

Parker became the youngest player in NBA history to make 100 playoff appearances, reaching the century mark after 25 years and 28 days, 216 days quicker than Kobe Bryant's old mark.