As you might have heard, LeBron James didn't finish the Miami Heat's Game 1 loss to open the 2014 NBA Finals last Thursday due to cramping brought on by sweltering conditions in the AT&T Center after the arena's air conditioning system malfunctioned. After a weekend full of criticism for not closing out Game 1, the four-time Most Valuable Player promised to be ready for Sunday's Game 2.
So how about it, LeBron: How do those legs feel?
They look pretty OK to me.
While James' wheels seemed to be fully operational on that first-quarter drive, this throwdown through contact was his only basket of the opening frame, as he scored just two points on 1 for 4 shooting with one assist, one rebound, one steal and three turnovers in 9 1/2 minutes. Cramping shouldn't be a concern in Sunday's Game 2, thanks to a weekend fix-up of the air conditioning system, but James did say before the game that he didn't feel quite "normal" as he prepared to take the floor.
The Spurs, for their part, carried over their scorching offensive finish to Game 1 by shooting 57.9 percent from the field in the opening frame, taking a 26-19 lead into the second quarter behind another sharp start from star power forward Tim Duncan (11 points on 5 for 6 shooting, three rebounds).
James got going in the second quarter, though, determinedly working his way to the basket and doing the hard work in the paint. All seven of his field-goal attempts in the second quarter came inside the restricted area, as he scored 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds, including two on the offensive glass, to finish the half with a game-high 13. Miami also ratcheted up the intensity on the defensive end in the second, holding San Antonio to a 7-for-23 mark (30.4 percent) from the floor and only 1-for-6 from 3-point land as they scratched their way back into the contest, heading into halftime tied at 43.
The Spurs worked to take away James' forays into the paint after halftime, but LeBron adjusted, too, finding the touch on his jump shot. James didn't take a single shot in the lane in the second half, but continued to pour it in, scoring 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from long distance. Fourteen of those points came during a red-hot third quarter that saw James make shot after shot over the outstretched arms of overmatched Spurs defenders:
He also made the most important pass of Miami's evening, finding Chris Bosh for a huge 3-pointer that gave the Heat a 95-93 advantage with 1:18 remaining; they'd hold on for a 98-96 win that tied the best-of-seven NBA Finals at one win apiece heading back to Florida for Game 3 on Tuesday night. James finished with a game-high 35 points on 14 for 22 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 1/2 minutes of work.
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