The San Antonio Spurs left Miami last June looking so human, Tim Duncan nearly in tears talking about how close they were to another championship.
They don't look human now. They look like a machine. Up 3-1 and shooting the ball at a level never seen in the NBA Finals, the Spurs headed home with a chance to wrap up things Sunday in Game 5.
"They're a high-oil machine and they move the ball extremely well," the Heat's LeBron James said. "They put you in so many difficult positions. If you're not right on time, right on target, they're going to make you pay for it."
The Spurs won by 19 and 21 in the two games in Miami and are shooting 54.2 percent in the series. The NBA Finals record for a series of any length is 52.7 percent.
Duncan said the memory of last season's loss -- the pain that's driven the Spurs through this entire season -- would "definitely come up" before Sunday.
"As I said, we know the caliber team they are, and we have a lot of respect for what they're able to do," Duncan said. "They're able to throw it another gear, and they're going to do just that. They don't want this to be done."
Clippers: Donald Sterling has hired four companies to dig up embarrassing information about NBA executives and fellow team owners, according to a person familiar with the latest escalation in Sterling's seven-week battle to maintain control of his team.
Sterling's confidant claims the businesses already have uncovered allegations of racial discrimination by NBA officials that are as bad as comments Sterling made suggesting he did not want to see blacks at Clippers games. The Sterling ally, who declined to be named when discussing the Clippers owner's legal strategy, said he was not ready to reveal the early findings.
Hornets: Charlotte placed the team's future personnel decisions in the hands of Rich Cho after Rod Higgins stepped down as the team's president of basketball operations. Higgins had been with the team for the past seven years. Cho will remain in his capacity as general manager and assume responsibility for the team's basketball operations.
Timberwolves: Minnesota hired Sidney Lowe as an assistant coach for the staff being assembled by Flip Saunders. Lowe had two previous stints under Saunders in Minnesota and also one in Detroit.
The Timberwolves also announced a group of six more players scheduled to work out at the arena Saturday, including Cal guard Justin Cobbs, who started his career at Minnesota before transferring.
Cavaliers: The team had second interviews with Los Angeles Clippers associate head coach Alvin Gentry and assistant Tyronn Lue for the head coaching job.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.