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James, Heat cool off Spurs, even series
San Antonio, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James and the Heat are headed back to Miami with the NBA Finals tied at a game apiece after bouncing back from a humbling loss in the series opener.
James poured in 35 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and assisted on Chris Bosh's go-ahead 3-pointer down the stretch as the Heat stole Game 2, 98-96, at a much cooler AT&T Center.
The Finals opener was headlined by a malfunctioning air conditioner that caused soaring temperatures in the arena and relegated James a spectator in the deciding minutes.
The Spurs took advantage of the four-time league MVP being on the bench for the final six minutes and ended the game on a 31-9 run to take the early series lead, but Sunday's outcome proved different with a functioning air conditioner and James at full strength in crunch time.
"I didn't really try to think about it too much," James said of Thursday's loss. "I just tried to make plays for me and my teammates."
Bosh finished with 18 points, while Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis added 14 apiece for the Heat, who once again avoided back-to-back losses by shooting 52.9 percent from the floor.
The Spurs were led by Tony Parker's 21 points and seven assists, while Tim Duncan totaled 18 points with 15 rebounds to tie Magic Johnson for the most postseason double-doubles in NBA history with 157.
Manu Ginobili donated 19 points off San Antonio's bench but missed two shots and committed a crucial turnover in the final minute.
Four straight missed free throws by the Spurs prevented them from building on an 87-85 lead midway through the final quarter.
"We can't miss four free throws in a row," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.
James followed the misses with a go-ahead 3-pointer, and even though that was his last bucket, he played a major role into the defining moments.
Parker fired a 3-pointer over Bosh to put the Spurs ahead 93-92 with under 2 1/2 minutes to go, and James drew two defenders into the lane and kicked to Bosh in the corner for an open triple.
"LeBron with the ball did a great job at his end," Popovich said. "You can go double him if you want. He's a pretty good player. I'm going to guess he's going to find the open man."
Bosh, who missed from the same spot on the previous possession, made it this time, and Ginobili's bad pass gave Miami the ball back with 1:01 remaining.
James' 1-for-2 showing at the other end made it 96-93 in favor of the Heat, and Ginobili was off the mark on a contested 19-footer with 29.9 seconds left.
Bosh sealed the victory by finding Wade for an easy layup, and Miami escaped with a much-needed road victory heading into Game 3 on Tuesday.
"We were right there and it slipped away," Ginobili said. "Now we are in a tough situation. We have to go to Miami and get one."
Duncan scored 11 points in the first quarter, including two off a vintage putback dunk to give the Spurs the early lead, as buckets by Patty Mills and Ginobili to open the second had the Spurs ahead by a 30-19 count.
The Heat stayed close with a 9-0 run, and James' layup off an offensive rebound gave Miami its first lead at 34-33 with a little over five minutes to go in the half.
It remained tight the rest of the way, and Duncan missed a putback at the buzzer to keep it even at 43-43 at the break.
Kawhi Leonard nailed a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-2 run in the middle stages of the third quarter to put San Antonio ahead 62-56, but James answered with eight straight points in less than a minute to give Miami the lead back.
James finished with 14 points in the frame, though a Parker floater in the closing seconds sent the Spurs into the fourth quarter with a slim 78-77 edge.
The Heat lost the first game in each of the last two Finals and went on to win the series. They have followed a postseason loss with a win 13 straight times ... The Spurs, after turning it over 23 times in Game 1, only committed 11 turnovers ... Miami's Mario Chalmers was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul for landing an elbow into Parker's midsection in the fourth quarter ... San Antonio had won eight straight home games by 15-plus points.
06/09 07:56:24 ET
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