LeBron James thrives late, Heat push NBA Finals to Game 7
MIAMI — What happened: During their 27-game winning streak in the regular season, the Miami Heat several times made remarkable comebacks to win. They picked a good time to do it again.
The Heat battled back from 13 points down late in the third quarter and from five points down in the final half minute of regulation to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 103-100 Tuesday night in overtime in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena. That tied the series 3-3, setting the stage for Thursday’s Game 7 in Miami.
The Heat really looked dead when they trailed by five points in the waning seconds of regulation. But forward LeBron James, who had a triple-double, hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left. Ray Allen eventually forced overtime on a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left that tied the score 95-95.
The Heat outscored the Spurs 8-5 in overtime, taking the lead for good at 101-100 on a short jumper by James with 1:43 left.
Manu Ginobili had a chance to win the game for the Spurs, but lost the ball on a drive with two seconds left and his team down 101-100. Allen then hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left. San Antonio’s Danny Green then had a 3-pointer blocked by Chris Bosh at the buzzer.
James led the Heat with 32 points and had 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Big man Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 30, although he had just five in the second half.
The Heat trailed 71-58 with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter and it wasn’t looking good. But the Heat, with James coming alive, stormed back to take a 89-86 lead with 1 ½ minutes left.
Spurs guard Tony Parker tied the score 89-89 on a long 3-pointer with 1:27 left, which started an 8-0 run. But the Heat fought back and then they persevered in overtime.
The Heat also got 20 points from guard Mario Chalmers. Another key for Miami was Spurs sharpshooter Green managing just three points on 1-of-7 shooting after having been a breakout star in the first five games.
The turning point: Trailing 94-89 with just over 20 seconds left, the Heat looked dead. But they closed regulation with a 6-1 run to force overtime.
All six points came on 3-pointers. The Heat got the one from James with 20 seconds left and the one from Allen with 5.2 seconds left.
It was reasons like that why the Heat signed Allen as a free agent last summer.
The difference maker: James was, mostly late in the game.
Entering the fourth quarter, James had just 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting. But he scored 18 the rest of the way on 8 of 14 shooting.
It marked James’ second triple-double of the Finals. He also had one in Game 1.
What it means: The Finals will head to a Game 7 for the first time since 2010, when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Boston. That also was the last time a team trailed 3-2 and won the last two games at home to take the series.
The momentum is on Miami’s side. Home teams have won the last five Game 7s. The last road team to take one was Washington winning at Seattle in 1978.
What’s next: Game 7 of the series is at 9 p.m. Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson.