Heat seizes home-court advantage
LeBron James needed some help, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh provided it. The Miami Heat finally rediscovered the formula to winning in the...
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — 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 with a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.
James had another Finals career high with 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 its three All-Stars to beat the Thunder, tying the series at one game apiece.
Bosh had 16 points and 15 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup for the Heat, which snapped a four-game Finals losing streak with its first victory since Game 3 against Dallas last year.
"It's been so long since we've had them all together," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "They played like the All-Stars that they are, and that's the effort that we need."
Now they go home to host Game 3 on Sunday and the next two after that, knowing they don't have to hear the noisy Thunder fans again — not to mention all their critics — if they win all three.
"We've been down. We've withstood rallies. The good thing about it, when they scored, we didn't get our heads down. We just got back on offense and started to execute," James said. "It's a great team that we're going against. So we're going to need every effort, every play and it's going to take all the way down to zeroes on that clock to get a win."
Kevin Durant scored 32 points for the Thunder but missed a shot after appearing to be bumped by 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 26 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 its worst first half of the season.
"That was the game. We can't start off down 18-2," Durant said. "We can't go down that much, especially at home. We've got to correct it."
It was the first home loss in 10 postseason games for the Thunder, which overcame a 13-point deficit in Game 1.
James had 30 points in the opener but afterward said Wade needed to be Wade — All-Star, Olympic gold medalist and Finals MVP.
In Game 1, Wade was 7 of 19. He wasn't sharp in the last round and continues to hear reports that something is physically wrong with him. He was all but asked Wednesday if his explosiveness was a thing of the past, what must have been insulting to a player who, though 30, still believes he's not far from the top of the game.
Wade bounced back in a big way, not quite at the level he was as the 2006 Finals MVP, but certainly good enough with the help around him now for the Heat to win another one.
He spun into the lane and found Bosh for a dunk that seemed to have the Heat safe at 98-91 inside the final minute. But a three-pointer by Durant cut it to 98-96 with 37 seconds left. After James missed a three-pointer, the Thunder got the ball to Durant, who appeared to be knocked off balance by James as he missed the baseline shot attempt.
Durant said only that he missed the shot.
James then sank the insurance free throws — finishing a 12-for-12 night at the line — as fans booed loudly over the no-call.
Bosh started after coming off the bench in every game since returning late last round from his nine-game absence with a strained lower abdominal muscle. The Big Three joined Battier and Mario Chalmers in the lineup, the first time Miami had gone with that first five all season.
James had his fifth straight 30-point game, breaking Wade's franchise playoff record.
|Best-of-seven series between Thunder and Heat (all games on Ch. 4)|
|1||Oklahoma City 105-94|
|3 Sunday||Miami||5 p.m.|
|4 Tuesday||Miami||6 p.m.|
|5 Thursday||Miami||6 p.m.|
|6 x-June 24||Okla. City||5 p.m.|
|7 x-June 26||Okla. City||6 p.m.|