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(Thursday, June 20th)
Final Score: Miami 95, San Antonio 88
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Make it two in a row for LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
James completed a brilliant 37-point, 12-rebound effort with a clutch jumper and a pair of free throws, as Miami secured a second straight title with a 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
After an up-and-down first six games of the series, Dwyane Wade showed his true colors by also posting an impressive double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"He was big time tonight," said James about his teammate. "He was in attack mode all night."
Chris Bosh, the last member of the Big Three, was held scoreless, but the Heat received an unexpected 18 points off the bench from Shane Battier, who iced the Spurs with six 3-pointers.
"Honestly, I felt good the last couple of games. And I made a couple of threes last game, and so I felt really confident tonight," said Battier. "I knew that our starters were going to be pretty tired after Game 6."
Miami hit on 12 3-pointers for the contest, twice as many as San Antonio connected on. Danny Green, who set a record for 3-pointers in an NBA Finals for the Spurs, was 2-for-19 combined over the last two games.
Tim Duncan came through with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but missed a point- blank layup for San Antonio with under a minute left that would have tied the game.
The 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard posted 19 points and 16 rebounds, but the Spurs trailed the entire fourth quarter and seemed out of gas at times following the team's late collapse in Game 6.
"Well, I thought they gave everything," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "That was a tough Game 6. And I think they showed a lot of poise, a lot of mental toughness to come back today and play as hard as they did."
It's the first loss in an NBA Finals for San Antonio, which had won in its first four trips. Tony Parker, slowed by a hamstring injury the last four games, had 10 points and was held scoreless in the second half.
"I have no excuse," said Parker, who was just 3-for-12 from the field. "I'm not going to put it on my hammy and stuff like that. I just didn't play well. My shot was not falling. Couldn't get in a rhythm tonight."
Games 2-5 were all decided before the start of the fourth quarter, but the Heat's 103-100 overtime victory in Tuesday's Game 6 was one for the ages, and Thursday's winner-take-all showdown was a grind for nearly the whole contest.
The margin never grew larger than seven points for either team the entire game, but the Heat started to seize control in the third quarter.
James, who attacked the basket to score 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime of Game 6, was dared to shoot from the outside by the Spurs on Thursday. Needless to say, he made them pay.
The reigning league MVP connected on five 3-pointers for the contest, and swished three long jumpers in the final six minutes of play to keep the Heat ahead in a fourth quarter they never trailed.
"He realized that was probably the shot that was going to be open," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "And in the biggest game, the biggest moment, those are the shots that he hit. And those were the difference tonight."
Mario Chalmers chipped in 14 points and gave the Heat the lead for good when he fired up a 28-footer and banked it in off the glass with the third-quarter clock expiring, sending Miami into the fourth with a 72-71 lead.
Miami took several six-point leads in the final frame and looked like they would break away at any moment, but the Spurs refused to wilt.
Manu Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs after a horrid eight- turnover performance in Game 6. His 3-pointer got his team within 85-82 with 4:21 left, but later had a pass slip through his hands out of bounds.
Then with the Spurs down by four with 23 seconds left, he got caught in the air and threw the ball directly to James, all but sealing the outcome.
Prior to that, Leonard hit a 3-pointer with two minutes remaining to bring the Spurs within 90-88, and San Antonio got two stops to keep it a two-point game. They looked sure to tie it when Duncan received the ball on the low block with Battier covering him, but he couldn't get his lay-up or putback to fall.
"The obvious word is 'disappointing,'" said Duncan. "Tough end to the game. Made some bad decisions, missed some shots. I don't know what to say. Just give credit to the Miami Heat."
James then put the clamp down with a clutch 19-footer for a four-point spread.
Wade's tie-breaking jumper gave the Heat a slim 46-44 edge at the end of an otherwise sluggish offensive first half, which featured a combined 14 turnovers.
The Spurs jumped out to an 11-4 lead just over four minutes in, but scored just five more points in the frame after missing 11 of their final 13 shots in the quarter.
Miami began to heat up during San Antonio's dry spell, with Battier connecting on a pair of threes during an 8-0 run that staked the hosts to their first lead at 18-15.
James started 1-for-5 from the field, but found his stroke midway through the second session. He completed a three-point play on a coast-to-coast double-clutch layup with 6:29 left in the half, then followed with a triple to build a 33-27 edge for Miami.
The Spurs were helped by a 14-of-15 performance at the free-throw line for the half, with a pair from Parker giving the Spurs a 44-42 lead with a minute left.
Wade, though, hit a long jumper with 0.8 seconds left to send the Heat into the break with a slim two-point edge.
The Heat are the 12th team to win the title in back-to-back years and first since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010 ... Its the Heat's third championship in franchise history ... Home teams are 15-3 in NBA Finals Game 7's ... No road team has won a Game 7 since the Washington Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics in 1978 ... Miami had 20 points off the Spurs' 15 turnovers.
06/21 02:27:23 ET
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