SAN ANTONIO – The air conditioning was blowing, LeBron James' muscles were firing and that was all the Miami Heat needed to even the 2014 NBA Finals. Well, that and a timely 3-pointer from Chris Bosh.
James scored 35 points – 22 in the second half – and found Bosh in the right corner for a 3-pointer with 1:18 left to put the Heat ahead to stay in a 98-96 victory that squared the Finals at a game apiece on Sunday.
The series shifts to Miami for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday night.
"He has an incredible way to put his fingerprints on a game in a lot of different areas," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James.
The two-time defending champion Heat once again showed their resilience, winning for an NBA-record 13th straight time following a loss in the playoffs. They haven't dropped consecutive games in the postseason since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lamented his team's poor ball movement down the stretch.
"That hurts," Ginobili said.
SAN ANTONIO – The AT&T Center announced Friday that air conditioning has been restored to the arena and should be functional for Sunday's Game 2 of the NBA Finals. And if it isn't working, the Miami Heat want the NBA to fine the San Antonio Spurs.
The building lost its AC for Game 1 because of an electrical failure, sending temperatures near 90 degrees on the court and ultimately contributing to LeBron James having to spend the final minutes of the fourth quarter on the bench because of dehydration and cramps.
"It was an extreme unfortunate situation for both teams," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday before Miami's practice. "It probably won't happen again, ever. Now, we might have to deal with the absolute opposite in Game , who knows. It will be 55 degrees in the arena, unless they don't get it fixed – which, if they don't, there should be a fine."
The AT&T Center and the Spurs hope it doesn't come to that.
Johnny Ludden at Ball Don't Lie 8 mths ago
SAN ANTONIO – After LeBron James was carried off the court with cramps in the critical closing minutes of the opener of the 2014 NBA Finals, he instantly became a target for critics. Not the least of which was the company that supplies the very product many athletes use to help fight dehydration:
@ryanbkoo The person cramping wasn't our client. Our athletes can take the heat.
James is an endorser of competitor Powerade, and the people running Gatorade's official Twitter account took great pride in pointing out the distinction after James couldn't return to the game.
And Gatorade continued trolling James…
@PrinceAmukamara You've always had good taste, Prince.
Arena's air conditioning fails in NBA Finals opener, LeBron James sits out final minutes as Spurs sweat out win over Heat
SAN ANTONIO – The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs officially returned to the NBA Finals on Thursday for a repeat performance of their epic seven-game series from a year ago. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were back. Same for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
They were sweating more than usual, but they were back. The problem: No one, apparently, coaxed the AT&T Center's air conditioning into returning.
Thanks to an electrical failure that shut down the arena's AC, the opener of the 2014 NBA Finals became a war of attrition. With temperatures near the court measuring above 90 degrees, James had to twice head to the bench in the final quarter because he was cramping. The Spurs took that as their cue to surge past the Heat for a 110-95 victory.
Game 2 is Sunday, presumably to be played in a temperature-controlled climate.
In recent days, some Spurs fans, coincidentally, had taken to wearing a popular T-shirt around these parts: "We're from Texas. We can handle the Heat."
Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…
James crowed, and he was mocked fast and hard for the boast, for the spectacle of a welcome party the Heat had thrown for him, for his narcissistic "I'm-taking-my-talents-to-South-Beach" cable TV special. He hadn't won anything yet, of course. He just acted like he had, arriving here full of pompousness and entitlement, well on his way to becoming one of the sporting world's great villains.
Somewhere in all that braggadocio, James' point was clear. He hadn't left his home state of Ohio to come to Miami to win a championship. He was here to build a dynasty, to construct his own legacy as one of the greatest to ever play.
Shane Battier made six 3-pointers, the most ever in a Finals Game 7, and Wade scored 23 points, but this victory – this championship – was won on James' dominance.
"The vision I had when I came here is all coming true," James said early Friday morning.
He's set out to prove himself ever since, and he's right: He is a much improved player, more immune to the pressure of the moment. Among the other areas in which James is better: He can shoot.
MIAMI – LeBron James had drifted through much of Tuesday night. Confused, a little self-doubt perhaps starting to creep into him, he looked more like the shell-shocked, ineffective star who lost a season-ending Game 6 to the Dallas Mavericks here two years ago than the bold, cocksure leader who has dominated the NBA ever since.
After losing Game 5 of these NBA Finals in San Antonio, James said he embraced the challenge of having to win consecutive games at home to claim his second straight championship. Only, the pressure, once again, appeared ready to swallow him whole, the enormity of the moment too big for him to grasp.
The San Antonio Spurs had worn on James, and as they hiked their lead deeper and deeper into the second half, the Miami Heat's championship reign moved that much closer to expiring.
It was one of the greatest Finals finishes ever, and James ended his night with a powerful triple-double of 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Eighteen of those points came after the third quarter.
Said Allen: "It's going to be a shot I remember for a long time."
Related video from Yahoo! Sports:
SAN ANTONIO – For two days, Manu Ginobili had heard all the doubts, including possibly a few from within himself. He had labored in these NBA Finals. That much was true. Long one of the game's great clutch performers and an icon here in South Texas, he had played unsteady, looking every bit of his 35 years.
This was not the Manu the San Antonio Spurs knew, and even some of them likely wondered: Was the magic gone? Were all those big-game moments Ginobili had delivered for much of the past decade just memories? Moments to be treasured and remembered, but no longer duplicated?
So, Ginobili stood there on the day before Game 5 of the Finals, surrounded by reporters, peppered by question after question, each of them implying the same. Are you done?
Not yet, it appears.
Are you done?
The answer Ginobili gave on the court Sunday night rang louder than anything he had said the day before.
"I needed to feel more important, more of a threat attacking the rim," Ginobili said. "Good to see it happen."
If Sunday was any indication? Not yet.
SAN ANTONIO – For all the talk that the Miami Heat's championship reign rested squarely on the shoulders of LeBron James, that these NBA Finals would turn on how well or poorly the King played, Dwyane Wade knew the truth. If the Heat were going to beat the San Antonio Spurs, he would need to play better, too.
James wore his shooting shirt like a cape to the Heat's practice on Wednesday, making a show of his declaration to lead his teammates into Game 4. Turns out, Wade preferred to wait until tipoff to put on the real one.
Looking like the Wade of old instead of Old Wade, he totaled 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals to lead the Heat to a 109-93 Game 4 victory over the Spurs Thursday night at the AT&T Center. The victory squares the series at 2-2 and assures the Finals will return to Miami for a sixth game, if not also a seventh. If the Spurs are going to dethrone the Heat, they will have to win at least once more on the Heat's court.
"We understood this was a survival game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.