MIAMI —What happened: A past dynasty perhaps has given way to a future one.
The San Antonio Spurs were trying to win their fifth NBA title in 15 years. But it wasn’t to be as they fell to the Miami Heat, who won a second straight NBA championship and could have more on the way.
The Spurs, gunning for their first title since 2007, were gritty. But they just didn’t have enough as the Heat won Game 7 of the Finals 95-88 Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena and claimed the series 4-3.
Heat star LeBron James has always said his goal is to win multiple championships, and now he has reached that with his second straight crown. James scored a game-high 37 points, including a 20-foot jumper that gave the Heat a secure 92-88 lead with 27.9 seconds left.
James did much of his work from 3-point range, shooting 5 of 10 while making and attempting his his most ever in a Finals game. He got plenty of long-range help from forward Shane Battier.
After having been mired in a horrific shooting slump in the Eastern Conference finals against and to start these Finals, Battier made his first five 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 8 for 18 points.
The Heat also got a gritty 23 points from guard Dwyane Wade, who has been battling knee issues throughout the playoffs.
The Spurs got 24 points from forward Tim Duncan, a 16-year man who came up short in his bid to win a fifth ring. Guard Manu Ginobili added 18.
The turning point: The Heat trailed 71-69 in the waning seconds of the third quarter. But then Mario Chalmers went into action.
The Heat point dribbled the ball quickly up the court. Then he banked in a straightaway 3-pointer from 28 feet to give Miami a 72-71 lead.
That gave the Heat momentum entering the fourth quarter. They outscored the Spurs 9-4 to start the quarter and take an 81-75 lead.
The Spurs got back within two on several occasions. But they never could catch the Heat.
The difference maker: No surprise, it was James. The surprise was how he did it.
James beat the Spurs with the 3-point shot. In shooting 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, he made and attempted the most long-range shots he ever has in a Finals game. James previous high for makes was in shooting 4 of 5 with Miami in Game 1 in 2011 with Dallas and his previous high for attempts was having gone 2 of 7 in Game 2 in 2011 and Game 4 against San Antonio in 2007 while with Cleveland.
James on Thursday shot 12 of 23 overall and had 12 rebounds. While going into more of a shoot-first mode, he had just four assists.
What it means: One could say the Big Three have cemented their legacy. There was much criticism after James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in 2010, but it’s hard to complain too much about two titles in three years.
More certainly could be on the way. While there always are rumors about the Heat possibly breaking up the Big Three, including possibly trading Bosh, it would seem unlikely Miami wouldn’t bring them all back next season for a run a third straight crown. All three can opt out of their contracts in the summer of 2014.
What’s next: Preseason openers for each team in October.