SAN ANTONIO -- LeBron James couldn't walk.
The stifling heat inside the building had done its job on the back-to-back MVP of the NBA Finals. Leg cramping wouldn't allow him to continue. James' left thigh locked up violently under the basket and he had to be helped off the court by his teammates and trainers.
They dropped James like a heap of sweating despair on the bench and he slammed his hand on press row in disgust. It was over.
Moments later Spurs shooter Danny Green drilled a three-pointer to give the revengeful home team a five-point lead and, ultimately, Game 1 of this best-of-seven NBA Finals. The 110-95 loss for the Heat felt like a demoralizing blow. The Heat led by seven points in the fourth quarter but collapsed under all that stifling humidity and pressure, and, well, heat, inside AT&T Center.
James led the Heat with 25 points, but couldn't play the final four minutes of the game. The Spurs outscored the Heat 16-3 after James left the game.
It was tent-revival hot for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. According to the arena, an electrical failure disabled the air conditioning. It felt like a sauna inside the building. The foldable hand clappers handed out at every seat doubled as makeshift fans for sweltering fans.
"They're trying to smoke us out of here," James said on the bench during the third quarter.
It seemed that way.
James started cramping in the second half and his muscled seized with 7:31 left in the game. The Heat called timeout to give James time to recover, but he couldn't make it out of his courtside foldable chair to reenter the game. It would be up to Wade, it seemed, and he delivered with a clutch jumper to give Miami an 88-84 lead with 6:21 to play.
But the Heat forgot to cover Danny Green.
The Spurs three-point specialist made a pair of wide-open shots from behind the arc to give San Antonio a 90-88 lead with 5:35to play and Green went down the court for a breakaway dunk to increase that lead to four points with 4:36 left.
Spoelstra called timeout. He had to get James back in the game. That didn't last long.
A layup by James cut the Heat's lead to 94-92, but he couldn't continue.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 21 points and Tony Parker had 19 after entering the Finals with a sore ankle. Wade had 19 points and Chris Bosh had 18.
The Spurs won despite committing 23 turnovers. The Heat had 18.
James checked back in the third quarter and was clearly tired. He settled for a layup on a drive to the basket that would normally end with a dunk and a possession later he came up short on a three-point attempt.
But as James was fading, Ray Allen somehow found young legs amid the heat and humidity and stormed down and blew past Green for a rim-rocking breakaway dunk. The unexpected dunk gave the Heat a four-point lead with 1:56 left in the third quarter and seemed to inspire James. He converted to free throws and made a spot-up three-pointer to give the Heat a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
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