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Transcendent LeBron puts up 35, leads Heat to 98-96 win to tie series 1-1

Jun 8, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

LeBron James, Tim Duncan LeBron James, Tim Duncan

SAN ANTONIO — If the Heat were going to beat a Spurs team that had won nine in a row at home, they were going to need a transcendent game from LeBron James. The guy who had his toughness questioned by some after missing the end of Game 1 due to cramps.

They got it — video game LeBron (complete with cheat codes) showed up in the second half Sunday night in San Antonio. It felt like NBA Jam.

LeBron finished with 35 points on 22 shots (he shot 64 percent), grabbed 10 rebounds, defended Tony Parker down the stretch and was a +11 in a two point game. He started slow, he got more rest than normal, but when it mattered in the second half LeBron James took over the game shooting 8-of-11, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc after halftime.

The result was a 98-96 Miami win that evens the NBA Finals at 1-1.

Game 3 is in Miami Tuesday night.

“LeBron with the ball did a great job at his end and we had to be really pretty perfect at the other end and we didn’t,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t take advantage of things, we made bad decisions.”

LeBron started 1-of-4 shooting with a couple turnovers but after a rest he came back in the second quarter and was aggressive attacking the rim — 9 of his 11 first half shots came inside 8 feet.

“I just continued to attack,” LeBron said of his run starting in the second quarter, extending into the second half. “I had a slow start, but all my misses were in the paint…. I was confident in where I was getting on the floor and I had to stick with it.”

After all that attacking the Spurs switched their defense on LeBron and played off him more in the second half (similar to how they played him last Finals). LeBron just started draining jumpers over them. Not that what they did mattered much, LeBron was 9-of-15 on contested shots in the game. He was hitting everything.

Miami was far sharper defensively this game, forcing the Spurs to take 29 percent of their shots from the midrange – San Antonio was 7-of-23 from there. That is not their game. After a slow start Miami’s defensive rotations inside were tight, contesting everything in the paint (San Antonio shot 17-of-33 in the paint for the game, they were 7-of-15 in the restricted area after a hot start) and the Heat were chasing guys off the arc. Miami did a good job of switching pick-and-roll coverages, throwing different looks at the Spurs to keep them off balance.

Under that pressure, the Spurs ball movement stopped late. With that they did not get shots in the paint down the stretch.

“We’ve got to be close to perfect to win, and tonight we were far from perfect,” Manu Ginobili said.

“I think it’s a 48-minute game and we didn’t move it enough of those minutes, basically,” Popovich said. “It’s how we have to score.  We can’t put it in somebody’s hands and have them create everything for us.  It’s got to be a group effort and we didn’t do that….

“You move it or you die.”

“(We had) more awareness of their shooters,” Dwyane Wade said. “We still make mistakes, it wasn’t perfect. Bit we made them take tougher shots. Our defense on the ball was a lot better and we rebounded the ball once the shot went up.”

A key turning point may have come with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter: The Spurs were up two when Mario Chalmers was whistled for a flagrant foul when he threw an elbow to Tony Parker’s gut while Chalmers was on the drive. It was the right call. But then Parker missed both flagrant free throws (he said the pain from the blow was part of that). The Spurs got the ball out of bounds, ran a play for Tim Duncan who was fouled driving the lane. He got to the line and missed both of his free throws. Rather than stretch the lead out to six, it remained at two.

Then at the other end LeBron hit a three.

“I just wanted to put pressure on their defense,” LeBron said.

“I don’t think we lose the game on that,” Parker said. “We were up one with 1:30 to go or two minutes and we made the stops that we needed. We just couldn’t make the shots to come out on top. We had a great opportunity.”

Miami got 18 points from Chris Bosh including a clutch three in the fourth quarter to give the Heat the lead for good — it was the same pass, same play LeBron made to Bosh for a potential game-tying shot against the Pacers, but he missed it then. He got nothing but net Sunday.

Miami also got 14 each from Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis (who played surprisingly well).

San Antonio had 18 from Tim Duncan, 11 in the first quarter, 21 from Tony Parker and 19 from Manu Ginobili.

122 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. realfootballfan - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    The game was well played except for the Spurs 4th quarter offense. It was horrible, which you can attribute to the Heat’s defense, and that should worry you if you’re a Spurs fan. When the Heat decide to play defense like that, I don’t know who can beat them 4 times in a series.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:24 PM


  3. mrhonorama - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Miami did a great job defensively in the last four or five minutes and generally, after the first quarter, controlled the pace. I also liked how they spread the floor in the last two minutes to get some great shots.

    That being said, if the Spurs don’t brick those free throws and Lebron is utterly fantastic from the perimeter, often in the face of really good defense, the Heat would have lost. That’s how close these teams are.

    • condor75 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Yeah IF my grandma had balls, she would be my granddad

  4. csbanter - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    What will the LeBron haters say now ? Greatness before our eyes and all people do is criticize the man. I know the ‘decision’ is still a sore spot but its time to cut him some slack.

    • packergator - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      MJ was incredible and a gold standard of greatness, but even he wasn’t perfect in Finals games. To those who say MJ would never have come out of a Finals game with cramps – he DID (Game 4 of the 1997 Finals against the Jazz).

      Seems like nothing Lebron does in his career or in the playoffs will ever be good enough, and I just don’t understand where that comes from.

    • infectorman - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      He made a ever-lasting negative impression with anyone non-Miami fan with that idiotic presser.
      Count how many time he uses the words “I” or “my” or refers to himself in that interview.

      Dude, have a slice of humble pie, it’s not like you weren’t blessed beyond compare with the talents you were given.

      • packergator - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        Which has what to do with how he’s played since? Hate the Decision all you want, but there’s no denying his greatness – overall and in the playoffs.

  5. jbeagles23 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    The heats offence completely makes splitter useless and bellinelli is so soft defensively he isn’t going to get much run. That’s two players that got the spurs here that have been taken out of the series

  6. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    My eyes with this hyperbole…

  7. money2long - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Gonna b a fun series.

    • miamatt - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      This is one comment nobody could disagree with.

      Having said that, I was completely miserable from the opening tip until 9.4 seconds were left in the 4th.

      • nard100 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        I hear you, but considering all the talk going into the series about the domination of the vaunted western conference, how the Heat had no real “test” from the east and they wouldn’t know what to do with the best team from the west, with the exception of last 7 minutes of game 1 when LBJ went out, they were keeping pace pretty handily. With a full game from LBJ on their court, I didn’t see anything that showed me they were better than the Pacers.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        haha I know the feeling. I didn’t get on this blog once from Thursday night until now. Couldn’t even think about basketball.

      • packergator - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        nard100 – You mean besides winning the series in 6 games?

    • realfootballfan - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:57 PM

      Yea, I hope we will get another 7 game series. These two teams play excellent defense and are very good offensively. It’s great basketball to watch, especially after the two dud conference finals.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:00 AM

      For Heat fans. Winning one game in Miami is going to be the most difficult thing the Spurs have had to do all year. Considering how poorly the Spurs have played on the road this year (5 losses in 8 road games), coupled with how unflappable LeBron and Miami have been at home… I’m not expecting them to do it.

      • savvybynature - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        The Spurs were a historically good road team this season, and the best in the league.
        Your comment makes no sense and shows you are out of touch with reality, Smigel, choosing instead to just spout nonsense that fits your preconceived notions.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        There’s a difference between playing average teams on the road in the regular season and having to play good/great teams on the road in the postseason (just like there’s a difference between clutch in the regular season and the postseason). The Spurs have not been great on the road in the postseason – that is indisputable.

  8. jzone954 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    Get ready for what we call transition basket ball down in Miami. These guys are look I be on rollerskates flying from rim to rim. There 9-0 at home this post season and that place is going to be rocking.

    • realfootballfan - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      The Heat better be careful because the Spurs will come in with a different mentality imo much like the Heat did tonight. If they lose one at home, I think game 3 will be the most likely game that it happens just because you’re not going to know what Popovich does until Tuesday night, and then it will be up to Spoelstra and the Heat to react in time to fend off a desperate team. Also, let’s not pretend this Heat team doesn’t have an overconfidence problem at times that routinely gets them beat when they shouldn’t. It will be interesting to see if almost losing to this team a year ago has their ego in check enough to prevent that.

      • condor75 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        Not really that complicated, the two best teams are playing, on any given night one can beat the other, all about making plays, there is no magic to it

      • packergator - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        The Heat are 8-0 at home in the 2014 playoffs, so there’s that. I don’t get the sense that anything from last year affects them now; they look like they have the Spurs right about where they want them. If the Heat win Games 3 and 4, the series is effectively over. If they lose one of these games, I think they can do enough to win another game in San Antonio.

  9. miamatt - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    It rubs the lotion on its skin.

    • finsfan71 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      …or else it get’s LeBron again

    • packergator - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Put the freakin’ ball in the basket!!

  10. jzone954 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    Miami will be fine… Miami now has a a
    Huge chance to go back SA up 3-1. Miami is a completely different team at home. There transition game is so unreal on their floor, and all Miamis team has to do on the offensive is what they did tonight and Lebron will take the load and go for gusto. Not to say the SA can’t win in Miami , but IMO their 3s won’t be falling as much on the road in Miami. And they’ll have to be as brilliant as Lebron was tonight to have a shot in Miami.

  11. dolphindubs - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:21 AM


    Dude, you obviously are not a basketball fan who has watched SA over the years. Manu Gifloppi was NOTORIOUS for that for the longest time. And did you even watch Game 1? Tiaggo Flopper did the phantom flop TWICE to try to get a call, something he seems to do on the regular.

    C’mon man. Stay consistent with your hate.

  12. kinggw - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    Great game for the Heat.The Spurs are supposed to be the sage, unflappable team, but through two games the Heat have looked liked the more poised team.

    Despite all the talk of how well Diaw and Leonard defend LBJ they can’t do anything with him. The Heat look to be all business and extremely focused on the task at hand. They aren’t complaining to the refs as much as they usually do and no matter happens they don’t seem to panic. That being said they can’t be comfortable with the split because the Spurs will be ready to play on Tuesday.

  13. jbeagles23 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    Them missing those four free throws shows how weak the spurs mentality is. San Antonio is going to crack. They now have confirmed if lebron played game one the heat would’ve won that. And Manu going back to 2013 Manu is about to start, for all the praise he gets all he does is jack up threes.

  14. newyorkball82 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Heat fans really think they should be up 2-0 right now? Lebron was in the whole game, played as good as you could ask from him, the spurs didn’t shoot well down the stretch, they missed 4 big free throws and ended up losing by 2. Somehow that translates to a dominating game by the heat… Also, keep thinking the spurs can’t win in Miami… “haters”.

    • realfootballfan - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Did you watch the game? The Spurs didn’t shoot well because the Heat defense was pretty special last night.

      • newyorkball82 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        Special? How so? Missing open shots and free throws has nothing to do with Defense, although with miami heat its always that the heat were dominant.

    • nard100 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      New York, it’s not so much that they “dominated” the Spurs. It’s that the vaunted Spurs didn’t dominate them in their own friendly confines they way the media and the haters like your self portrayed. It is not unreasonable to speculate that outside of their arena where they have lost 5 of 8 games that the advantage belongs to the Heat going forward.

  15. pphins4life12 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    When is the next Knicks game..??

    • newyorkball82 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Im pretty sure its going to be when the next season starts…

      • pphins4life12 - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        Okay just wondering…….

  16. golfrangeman - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    @newyorkball82 how ironic you call heat fans haters when in fact they are the true fans. Your the hater,your not rooting for only against. Where as heat fans are rooting for there team.
    Do yourself a favor (and the rest of us) look up fan and see where it mentions rooting against a particular team. IT DOESN’T !!!

  17. jzone954 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Who do you think we are newyork ball the rangers?

  18. nard100 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    What was cool is that the lead in for the game and most commentary during the game had to do with the “transcendent” or “timeless” Spurs and then guys like Bill Simmons had to swallow it all and talk instead about the Heat and Lebron’s greatness. That must have hurt like a hemorrhoid.

    • savvybynature - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Yeah the Heat never get their fair share of media attention and fawning, great point there. lol

  19. golfrangeman - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    @infectorman your right he does use I and my a lot. Like when he says all I want to do is help my team win or if I can make a few plays to help my teammates.
    “Haters will hate”

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