Heat 95, Spurs 88

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Although they needed Game 7 in their last two series, the top-seeded Miami Heat lived up to the hype, winning their second straight NBA championship with a 95-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat's win was made possible in part by the perimeter scoring of LeBron James (37 points, 12 rebounds), Dwyane Wade (23 points) and Shane Battier (18 points on 6-of-7 3-point shooting). The Heat survived an off game by Chris Bosh (no points).
The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan (24 points, 12 rebounds), Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 16 rebounds), Manu Ginobili (18 points) and Tony Parker (10 points).
With San Antonio down by two points and 45 seconds left, Duncan missed a layup and a tip-in while being guarded by the smaller Battier.
James then hit a 15-foot jumper to make it 92-88 with 28 seconds left.
A turnover by Ginobili further sunk San Antonio, and the Heat cruised from there.
It was the third NBA title overall for the Heat, who celebrated the franchise's 25th anniversary in grand fashion.
The Heat won 82 games this season, including 66 in the regular season. That win total is fourth-best in NBA history, with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls holding the record at 87. The Heat also had a 27-game win streak this season, second best in league history.
But as dominant as the Heat were in the regular season, they alternated wins and losses for 12 straight games in the final two rounds of the playoffs -- until Thursday, when they finally won two in a row.
The Spurs could not over this key statistic: Home teams are now 15-3 in NBA Finals Game 7s.
Battier, invisible earlier in the playoffs, was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Spurs were able to keep within striking distance.
The Heat took a 72-71 lead when Mario Chalmers banked in a 3-pointer that just beat the third-quarter buzzer. Chalmers shot it from about five feet beyond the top of the key.
James made three 3-pointers in the third period and had 28 points entering the fourth.
The Heat led 46-44 at halftime thanks in part to 14 points by Wade. That's as many as he scored in all of Game 6.
James was also big for the Heat, scoring 15 points, including 11 in the second quarter -- six of them on a pair of 3-pointers. A negative for the Heat was that Bosh was scoreless before the break (0-for-2).
San Antonio was led by Duncan with 13 first-half points and Leonard with 10. However, Danny Green had just two points and was 0-for-6 from the field before intermission.
The Heat had just 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the opening quarter, trailing by as many as seven. However, when Duncan and Parker were rested simultaneously, the Heat closed the quarter on an 8-1 run and led 18-16. Battier hit two 3-pointers during that run.
NOTES: Spurs G Gary Neal banked in a 3-pointer in the second quarter. Battier hit one like that for the Heat in Game 6. ... Heat G Ray Allen played his 11th Game 7, breaking the NBA record previously held by Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell. ... Wade, who collided with Ginobili in Game 6, said he woke up Wednesday with a stiff and swollen left knee. He also has struggled with an ailing right knee for most of the postseason. ... Thursday was the 18th Game 7 of an NBA Finals and just the sixth since 1978. It was also just the second time that a Miami pro team hosted a Game 7 for a championship. The then-Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the finale to win the 1997 World Series. ... The Spurs had played in one previous NBA Finals Game 7, beating the Detroit Pistons in 2005. ... James has four triple-doubles in NBA Finals games, the second-best total in league history, trailing only Magic Johnson's eight. ... Miami F Udonis Haslem did not play in Game 6 due to coach Erik Spoelstra's decision, the first time that happened all season. On Thursday, Haslem entered the game in the second quarter.

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