LeBron James needed some help, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh provided it.
The Miami Heat finally rediscovered the formula to winning in the NBA Finals - barely.
James had another finals career high with scored 32 points, Wade rebounded from a poor opener to add 24 and the Heat built a huge early lead before holding off a furious fourth-quarter rally behind their three All-Stars to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 on Thursday night, tying the series at one game apiece.
Bosh had 16 points and 15 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup for the Heat, who snapped a four-game finals losing streak with their first victory since Game 3 against Dallas last year…
Kevin Durant scored 32 points for the Thunder, but missed a shot after appearing to be bumped with James that would have tied a game the Thunder trailed the entire way. Russell Westbrook finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but shot 10 of 25 from the field.
James Harden tried to keep the Thunder in it early and finished with 21 points, but this time the Thunder couldn’t come back from a double-digit deficit after spotting Miami a 17-point advantage during their worst first half of the season…
Durant nailed a 3-pointer and drove into the lane to throw down a dunk over Battier that cut it to 82-74 with 8:22 remaining. His 3-pointer from the wing trimmed it to 90-86, and the Thunder got it all the way to 94-91 when Westbrook dunked Durant’s miss with 1:48 to go.
James answered by banking in a jumper for his first basket of the final period, as the Big Three combined for all but one of Miami’s seven field goals in the fourth quarter.
– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press
The Heat outscored the Thunder 48-32 in the paint and seemingly executed every adjustment it wanted to make after its collapse in Game 1 but still, somehow, Miami watched it nearly all unravel in the final seconds. The Heat led 98-91 with less than 50 seconds to play when Russell Westbrook cut it to a two-possession game with a driving layup. The Heat then fumbled away the ball bringing it up the court, and Kevin Durant scooped it up for an easy three-pointer with 37.5 seconds. It cut the Heat’s lead to 98-96.
Suddenly, after so much had gone right for the Heat, it was dangerously close to going down 2-0 in the series. Durant, who finished with 32 points, had the ball in his hands with less than 10 seconds to play but missed a seven-foot bank shot. James desperately grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled immediately by Westbrook. James made his final free throws of the night to seal the victory.
“Well, that’s competition, and that’s what it’s about,” Spoelstra said.
Dwyane Wade, critiqued for looking a little past his prime in Game 1, responded with 24 points, including 13 in the first half. Wade was 10 of 20 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free-throw line.
Starting his first game since the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Chris Bosh had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. He breathed life into the Heat’s half-court offense from the beginning of the game and settled the defense on the other end.
– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald
The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t just get out to a slow start in Game 2. They got punched in the mouth. Then when they didn’t punch back right away, they got punched again.
Ironically it wasn’t until Kevin Durant, the Thunder’s go-to scorer and Russell Westbrook, their other go-to scorer had to sit down with two early fouls each that the Thunder started to cut into the deficit.
Not so ironically, it was the same duo that would bring the Thunder back getting them all the way back to within two, but that was as close as they would get as Miami held on for a 100-96 win and a split of the series.
The Heat, desperate as they might be, are still a team capable of having their way with anyone and even after the Thunder seemed to be on the way to righting the ship, Miami found the strength to hold them off.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra set the desperate tone for the night when he put Chris Bosh back in the starting lineup alongside Shane Battier in the frontcourt.
– Reported by Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun