Heat Keeps Cool, Gets Even
San Antonio — The Miami Heat never said this was going to be easy. And, so far, it has been anything but.
The Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 98-96 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday at AT&T Center. The best-of-seven series is tied at 1, with Game 3 on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Miami narrowly avoided a 2-0 deficit for the first time in the Big Three era with the help of center Chris Bosh. Trailing by one, he made an open 3-pointer from the corner to put the Heat ahead 95-93 with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili committed a turnover on the next possession. That was more than enough room for the Heat to hang on. LeBron James led the Heat with 35 points and 10 rebounds. Bosh finished with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting while Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each had 14.
Guard Tony Parker led the Spurs with 21 points.
It was Parker who gave the Spurs a one-point lead when he hit a 3-pointer from the wing that made it 93-92 before the Bosh shot changed the outcome.
The game nearly turned with 6 minutes, 43 seconds remaining. Trailing by two, guard Mario Chalmers committed a flagrant foul on Parker. San Antonio failed to capitalize, with Parker missing both free throws. On the next possession, Tim Duncan was fouled but also blew a pair from the line.
It was missed free throws that haunted the Spurs in last year’s Finals. Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili each misfired on attempts in the closing seconds that would have sealed Game 6. Instead, it allowed Ray Allen’s 3-pointer to force overtime and the Heat eventually won the series in seven games.
After this batch of misses, the James hit a 3-pointer to put the Heat ahead 88-87.
The game began with no concerns about the playing conditions. Three days ago, both teams played in sauna-like conditions after the air-conditioning was damaged. With the temperatures back to normal, it was the Spurs who held the early advantage.
San Antonio used precise offensive execution to shoot 57 percent in the first quarter, with Duncan scoring 11 of his 18 points. The Spurs kept the pressure on, grabbing a 30-19 lead on Manu Ginobili’s jumper with 11:01 left in the first half.
The Spurs eventually cooled on the offensive end, allowing the Heat to build momentum. At that moment, the Heat were awakened by James. After a 3-pointer by Allen and layup by Wade, James scored six straight points. The personal run ended with him being on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Chalmers to pull the Heat to within two.
The Heat never led in the half, but felt fortunate to go into the locker room tied at 43. In the third quarter, it was more James with a little Rashard Lewis sprinkled in.
Lewis gave the Heat their first lead, 51-50, on a turnaround jumpshot at the 9:04 mark. He followed that with a 3-pointer before turning things over to James. He scored 12 of the Heat’s 13 points during a three-minute stretching, making two 3-pointers.
James’ last points of the quarter, a jumper over Spurs forward Boris Diaw, put the Heat ahead 59-54. Still, it wasn’t enough to rattle the savvy Spurs. Handling the Miami outburst was nothing for them, especially with veterans like Duncan, Ginobili and Parker.
They showed why they are playing in their in the Finals for a sixth time by regaining the lead before the end of the quarter. This time, the spark was provided by reserve guard Patty Mills, who made two 3-pointers. The Spurs then regained the lead on Parker’s floater on the last possession of the quarter.