LeBron James and the Miami Heat forced a decisive Game 7 in the National Basketball Association Finals, twice rallying in the fourth quarter before beating the San Antonio Spurs 103-100 in overtime.
James led the Heat with 32 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter and overtime last night in Miami to prevent the Spurs from claiming a fifth NBA title in the past 15 seasons.
“We live to see another day,” said James, who added 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
The defending champion Heat will host Game 7 tomorrow after the teams alternated wins during the first six games. Miami is favored by 6 1/2 points, according to oddsmakers.
The last time the NBA Finals went to a decisive seventh game was after the 2009-10 season, when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics.
“If you said in September if we could decide this season with a Game 7 in our building, every single one of us would take it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said at a news conference. “It’s the best two words in team sports -- Game 7.”
The Heat erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and then had to rally again after a late 8-0 scoring run by San Antonio gave the Spurs a 94-89 lead in the final minute and sent some Miami fans heading for the exits.
After misfiring badly on a 3-pointer, James converted his second try with 20.1 seconds on the clock. After Kawhi Leonard hit one of two free throws for the Spurs, James misfired on a 3-point shot. Chris Bosh grabbed the rebound and passed into the corner to Ray Allen, who stepped back and knocked down a tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left.
“Until the clock runs out, we still have an opportunity to win,” said Allen, who had nine points. “We’ve been a resilient bunch all year. We knew we still had a chance.”
In the five-minute overtime, the Heat outscored the Spurs 8-5, with James hitting a seven-foot jumper for a 101-100 lead with 1:43 remaining. Miami then came up with a series of defensive stops in the final minute, with a steal by James, two blocked shots by Bosh, and Allen stripping the ball from Manu Ginobili as the Spurs’ guard drove to the basket for a potential go-ahead basket with two seconds remaining.
Ginobili and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich both argued that there should have been a foul called on Ginobili’s drive. Allen then hit a pair of free throws and Bosh sealed Miami’s victory by blocking a desperation 3-pointer by Danny Green.
“If we were going to go down, we’re going to leave every bit of energy on the floor,” James said.
Mario Chalmers had 20 points and Dwyane Wade added 14 for the Heat, who withstood Tim Duncan’s best game of the postseason. Duncan, seeking to join John Salley as the second player in NBA history to win titles in three decades, finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
Duncan had only five points after halftime and failed to score during the fourth quarter and overtime.
Leonard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, while Parker had 19 points and eight assists. Parker missed 12 of his first 16 shots before hitting a step-back 3-pointer with 1:27 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score 89-89. Parker also hit a spinning basket with 58 seconds left to put Spurs back ahead 91-89 after they’d blown a 13-point lead.
The Heat answered with their two second-chance 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds to force overtime.
“It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” James said. “The ups and downs, the emotions -- good and bad -- throughout the whole game, to be a part of something like that is something you’ll never be able to recreate once you’re done playing. I’m happy about the way we dug down and were able to get a win that it didn’t look like we could muster up.”
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