SAN ANTONIO -- LeBron James didn't cramp and Chris Bosh didn't miss.
After being carried off the court to begin the NBA Finals, James turned in a Herculean performance in Game 2 and the Heat defeated the Spurs 98-96 to tie this best-of-7 series at 1-1. The Finals now shifts to Miami with the Heat holding home-court advantage. James finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds and found Bosh in the corner wide open for the game's biggest shot.
Bosh swished his three-pointer to give the Heat a 95-93 lead with 1:18 left and the Heat held on for the victory. The Heat is now 13-0 in games following a playoff loss dating back to 2012, and Bosh's clutch shot was almost identical to his game-winning basket earlier in the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets.
Bosh finished with 18 points and Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each had 14 points. Tony Parker had 21 points and Tim Duncan finished with 18 to lead San Antonio. Spurs sixth-man Manu Ginobili had 19 points off the bench.
The Heat hasn't trailed by two games in a series since James joined the team in 2010. The Heat last lost two playoff games in a row in 2012 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Against the Celtics, the Heat trailed 3-2 in the series before winning a pair of games to advance to the Finals.
Sunday provided the finish the NBA deserved after the oppressive heat forced James from the fourth quarter in Game 1.
A reverse layup by Chris Andersen put the Heat ahead 92-90 with 2:49 to play, but Parker countered with a three-pointer to give the Spurs the advantage, 93-92, with 2:26 left. The Heat called a timeout, but Bosh missed a three-pointer from the corner. He redeemed himself a minute later.
Following Bosh's three-pointer, Ginobili committed the Spurs' 11th turnover of the game on San Antonio's next possession and then James made 1 of 2 from the free-throw line with 47 seconds left. Following a miss by Ginobili, Wade finished off the Spurs with a wide-open layup under the basket.
The Heat outscored the Spurs 44-34 on points in the paint after being dominated inside in Game 1. Led by James, the Heat shot 52.9 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from three-point range (8 of 19). Lewis was 3 of 7 from three-point range.
A three-pointer by Lewis with 9:37 left in the game gave the Heat an 83-80 lead with James resting on the bench. Bosh started the fourth quarter off with an impressive dunk over Tiago Splitter, who hammered Bosh as he finished the field goal. Bosh converted the and-one free throw for a three-point play to give the Heat a tenuous two-point lead.
It didn't last.
James checked in with his team leading, but the Spurs stormed back to take a two-point lead with 7:44 remaining on a three-pointer by Danny Green. The Spurs then missed an opportunity to create some distance when their two biggest stars missed four consecutive free throws on one possession.
The sequence started with a flagrant foul by Mario Chalmers on Parker. After Parker's misses, Duncan went to the line and missed two more. James made San Antonio pay, answering with a fadeaway three-pointer with 6:09 left to put the Heat ahead 88-87.
A pair of free throws by James gave the Heat a three-point lead, but Spurs forward Boris Diaw knocked down a clutch three-pointer from the corner to tie the score at 90.
It was a magnificent third quarter by James, who went 6 of 7 from the field and 2 of 2 from three-point range in the period for 14 points. After beginning the game with two points in the first quarter, James went 11 of 14 from the field through the second and third quarters.
The Spurs raced ahead by six points in the third quarter behind a pair of three-pointers by Kawhi Leonard, but James answered with eight points in a row, including a pair of three-pointers. From there, James went into overdrive.
A timeout by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich couldn't slow down the Heat's back-to-back NBA Finals MVP. James added and 18-foot, step-back jumper and 20-foot jumper to give the Heat a 69-64 lead with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
A 15-3 run gave the Heat its first lead of the game with 5:07 left in the second quarter. Ray Allen started the run with a wide-open three-pointer and Popovich immediately called timeout to prevent any hint offensive momentum for the Heat.
The timeout prevented nothing, though. Wade went inside with a layup for his first field goal of the game and James followed with a pair of driving layups that seemed to kick-start the Heat's confidence. A put-back dunk by James after an impressive offensive rebound cut the Spurs' lead to two points, and, following a technical foul on Duncan, James knocked down a free throw and then grabbed another offensive rebound, which he converted for a layup.
After watching his team fall behind by 11 points, James willed the Heat back into the game, but the individual effort took a toll. James called for a substitution with 4:55 remaining in the first half. With James out of the game, the Heat quickly fell behind by five points. James re-entered the game and the Heat reeled off a quick run to tie the score, 43-43, at halftime.
(c)2014 The Miami Herald
Visit The Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services