June 21, 2013

Heat repeat as NBA Champions

LeBron James scores 37 points in Game 7 as Miami wins its second straight title, defeating a stubborn foe in San Antonio.

The Associated Press

MIAMI – LeBron James and the Miami Heat remain atop the NBA, and not even a proud push from the San Antonio Spurs could knock them down.

Tim Duncan ,Chris Bosh
click image to enlarge

Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs knocks away a shot by Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat – make that the champion Miami Heat – in Game 7 of the NBA finals Thursday night.

The Associated Press

LeBron James
click image to enlarge

LeBron James remains at the top of the basketball world, coming up big in the biggest of games Thursday night as the Miami Heat remained the NBA champions by defeating the San Antonio Spurs.

The Associated Press

RECENT NBA CHAMPS

2013: Miami Heat

2012: Miami Heat

2011: Dallas Mavericks

2010: L.A. Lakers

2009: L.A. Lakers

2008: Boston Celtics

2007: San Antonio Spurs

2006: Miami Heat

2005: San Antonio Spurs

2004: Detroit Pistons

James led the Heat to their second straight title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense Game 7 that lived up to its billing.

Winning the title they needed to validate the best season in franchise history -- and perhaps the three-superstar system they used to build it -- the Heat won the second straight thriller in the NBA's first championship series to go the distance since 2010.

"It took everything we had as a team," Dwyane Wade said. "Credit to the San Antonio Spurs, they're an unbelievable team, an unbelievable franchise. This is the hardest series we ever had to play. But we're a resilient team and we did whatever it took."

Two nights after his Game 6 save when the Heat were almost eliminated, James continued his unparalleled run through the basketball world, with two titles and an Olympic gold medal in the last 12 months.

"I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason," said James, who was MVP for the second straight finals. "I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I'm at a loss for words."

He made five 3-pointers, defended Tony Parker when he had to, and did everything else that could ever be expected from the best player in the game.

The Heat became the NBA's first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2009-10, and the first team to beat the Spurs in the NBA finals.

Players and coaches hugged each other after the game, the respect between the franchises that was obvious when the series started becoming even more apparent after two straight classics.

Fans stood, clapped and danced across the final minutes, when every score was answered by another score, each stop followed by a better stop. The Heat pushed their lead to six points a few times midway through the fourth but the Spurs would never be deterred.

The Spurs, so close to a fifth title just two nights earlier, couldn't find a way to grab it in this one, perhaps the last shot Tim Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili will get together.

They were trying to become the first road team to win a Game 7 since Washington beat Seattle in 1978, but those old guys ran out of gas just before the finish.

Duncan had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, but missed a shot and follow attempt right under the basket with about 50 seconds left and the Spurs trailing by two.

James followed with a jumper -- the shot the Spurs were daring him to take earlier in the series -- to make it 92-88, sending San Antonio to a timeout.

He then came up with a steal and made two free throws for a six-point lead, and after Ginobili missed, James stalked toward the sideline, knowing it was over and he was the last one standing again.

Wade had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who overcame a scoreless Chris Bosh by getting six 3-pointers and 18 points from Shane Battier.

Streamers fell from the arena ceiling onto the white-clad fans for the second straight year, but this one meant so much more after how close the Heat were to losing it.

They were down 10 in the fourth quarter of Game 6 before James led the charge back, finishing with a triple-double in Miami's 103-100 overtime victory. This one was nearly as tight, neither team leading by more than seven and the game tied 11 times.

(Continued on page 2)

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