June 19, 2013

Escape for the Heat

LeBron James rallies Miami to a Game 7 and Ray Allen -- remember him? -- hits a now-or-never 3-pointer.

The Associated Press

MIAMI - LeBron James shrugged off a poor start to get 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds to play to force overtime and the Miami Heat staved off elimination with a 103-100 victory against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA finals Tuesday night.

Dwyane Wade,Danny Green
click image to enlarge

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat puts up a shot Tuesday night while guarded by Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs during Game 6 of the NBA finals at Miami. The Heat came back to force Game 7 with a 103-100 victory in overtime.

The Associated Press

GAME 7

WHO: Spurs at Heat

WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday

TELEVISION: ABC

RECENT FINALS

2012: Heat def. Thunder, 4-1

2011: Mavericks def. Heat, 4-2

2010: Lakers def. Celtics, 4-3

2009: Lakers def. Magic, 4-1

2008: Celtics def. Lakers, 4-2

James missed nine of his first 12 shots but scored 16 points in the fourth to rally the Heat from a 10-point deficit. The Heat trailed 94-89 with 28 seconds to play, but James hit a 3 with 20 seconds to go and Allen drilled another to tie it.

James' layup with 1:43 to play in overtime gave the Heat a 101-100 lead, and Allen added two free throws to force Game 7, which will be Thursday night at Miami. The Spurs had one final chance down 103-100, but Chris Bosh blocked Danny Green's 3-pointer from the corner as time expired.

Tim Duncan had 30 points and 17 rebounds in a performance straight out 2003. But he was scoreless in the fourth and overtime, and the Spurs squandered a golden opportunity to close out the series and win their fifth championship.

Mario Chalmers scored 20 points, Bosh had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Shane Battier hit three 3-pointers for the Heat, who trailed 75-65 after three quarters.

James eschewed his usual headband in the fourth quarter, then spearheaded the ferocious comeback. He scored six straight points for the Heat, then fed Chris Andersen, who made a free throw to pull the Heat within two at 82-80 with seven minutes to play.

James then blocked a layup by Duncan and scored on the other end to tie it and Allen's reverse layup gave the Heat an 84-82 lead with six minutes to go.

The Heat led 89-86, but Tony Parker hit a step-back 3 and a layup to take back the lead.

After Allen's big shot from the corner sent the game into overtime, James scored on a layup for a 101-100 lead with one minute to go. The Spurs had a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds, but Manu Ginobili's drive was thwarted and Allen hit two free throws.

Bosh blocked Green's 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the defending champs lived to fight another day.

Parker finished with 19 points on 6-for-23 shooting and eight assists, and Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio. Green, who broke the NBA finals record for 3-pointers, had just three points on 1-for-7 shooting.

After a vintage first three quarters from Duncan had the Spurs steamrolling toward the championship, James delivered a vintage performance of his own in the fourth. Tentative and flustered through the first three, James went into full-on attack mode in the fourth to force a Game 7.

It was the force-of-nature showing that had been all too rare for James in these finals, but the Heat have never needed it more after Duncan took it to them the first 36 minutes.

Duncan hit his first eight shots of the game, conjuring the dominant form that brought four titles to San Antonio between 1999 and 2007. But he long ago handed the reins of the Spurs' offense over to Parker, letting Paker take over as Duncan grew older.

Until Tuesday night.

After getting a vintage performance from Manu Ginobili in Game 5 to take control of the series, the Spurs got a throwback effort from Duncan to start Game 6.

With the Heat leading 40-33 and threatening to pull away with 7:30 to go in the first half, Duncan scored San Antonio's next 13 points to start a 17-4 run that gave San Antonio a 50-44 lead at halftime.

Duncan had never scored more points the first half (25) of a finals game in his career, a performance reminiscent of his 32-point, 20-rebound, seven-block game in Game 1 of the 2003 finals against New Jersey. But this one was so much more important.

They entered the game with title No. 5 sitting right there in front of them.

 

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