CLEVELAND (AP) — True roundball royalty, the San Antonio Spurs are once again wearing the crown.
LeBron James, Cleveland’s preordained King, isn’t quite ready for his.
Finals MVP Tony Parker scored 24 points, Manu Ginobili had 27 — 13 in the fourth quarter — and the Spurs, who bounced over from the ABA in 1976, moved in among the NBA’s greatest franchises with an 83-82 victory Thursday night for a sweep of the Cavaliers — court jesters through much of their first finals.
With their fourth championship since 1999 — and third in five years — the Spurs joined the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as the only teams in NBA history to win four titles.
The final moments were hectic, though, as the Spurs needed every last free throw to hold off the Cavaliers, who made a last stand at home in a season of seasons for their once downtrodden franchise.
Cleveland went on an 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter, taking its first lead in any second half of the series on James’ drive with 7:55 left. Cleveland went up 63-60 on Daniel Gibson’s drive, but that’s when Duncan and Co. showed why they’re champions.
Ginobili scored inside, was fouled and missed his free throw. But Duncan muscled into the lane and tipped in the miss to make it 66-63. The Cavs tied it, but Ginobili, who didn’t make a field goal in Game 3, dropped a 3-pointer, and when James missed a 3, the Spurs regained control by outworking Cleveland.
Duncan and Fabricio Oberto scrapped for offensive rebounds as the Spurs kept the ball for nearly two minutes before Oberto’s three-point play made it 72-66 with 2:29 remaining.
James, possibly a little tired following the early morning birth of his second son, hit another 3-pointer but Ginobili responded again to make it 76-69.
Damon Jones made three free throws and James made another 3-pointer, but Ginobili made four free throws in the final seven seconds and immediately began celebrating a title that was all but inevitable.