LeBron James Scores 35, Heat Beat Spurs 98-96 in Game 2

Miami Heat forward LeBron James scored 35 points a game after he cramped up to lead his team to a 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals.

Jun 9 2014, 3:21am CDT | by

LeBron James Scores 35, Heat Beat Spurs 98-96 in Game 2
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Miami Heat forward LeBron James scored 35 points a game after he cramped up to lead his team to a 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals

According to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald, James' bounce-back performance punctuated by his key assist to Chris Bosh for a dagger three-pointer proved to be the difference: 

"Chris Bosh was wide open in the corner and the most unselfish player he has ever played with had the ball. 

"Bosh knew exactly what to expect. The Spurs did not. 

"After a Herculean performance in which he had already scored 35 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, LeBron James lowered his head and drove hard at the rim with his team trailing by a point. James had no intention of shooting, though, despite willing the Heat back into the game in the second quarter and simply taking it over in the third.

"'I caught Tim Duncan peeking at me a bit, and I was able to find (Chris Bosh) in the corner in one of his favorite spots on the floor,' James said. 'I got a lot of confidence in my teammates they've got a lot of confidence in me and we live with the results.'

"This time James didn't cramp and Bosh didn't miss.

"After being carried off the court due to leg cramps to begin the NBA Finals, James was an unstoppable force in Game 2, a 98-96 victory for the Heat that tied his best-of-seven NBA Finals 1-1. James was 14 of 22 from the field and 3 of 3 from three-point range, but it was his incredible pass at the end that won it for the defending back-to-back champions.

"The series now shifts to Miami with the Heat holding homecourt advantage, and renewed confidence after another series-tying victory in a long list of clutch postseason performances. It was the Spurs' first loss at AT&T Center since Game 2 of the first round." 

In Game 2, San Antonio got off to a fast 7-2 start. Duncan scored five of those points -- a three-point play off a foul on Bosh and a bucket off a Tiago Splitter assist. The Heat didn't let the deficit get any bigger as Rashard Lewis scored on a layup and a three-pointer at the 6:52 mark of the first quarter for a 14-11 count in the Spurs' favor. Mario Chalmers' floater 30 seconds later forced San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich to call his first timeout of the game. 

James' dunk knotted the count at 15 apiece. However, Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who finished with 21 points and seven assists, scored on a layup and three-pointer to give his team a five-point lead. Duncan's shot would cap off the 11-2 run which resulted in San Antonio enjoying its biggest lead of the game at that point, 26-17. 

The Spurs would continue to go on their tear in the second quarter as Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili each made jumpers to give them an 11-point lead at 30-19. Miami would battle right back as it went on a 9-0 run featuring a Ray Allen three-pointer, a Dwyane Wade layup and two James layups. James' ninth point of the quarter at the 5:07 mark would give the Heat their very first lead of the game. 

However, Ginobili, who would score 19 points off the bench, scored the Spurs' next four points on a techincal free throw and a three-pointer for a three-point lead. The two teams would battle to a 43-43 tie at the half. 

The third quarter would be a very tight one. 

The Spurs re-established a three-point lead after Game 1 hero Danny Green buried a triple after two minutes elapsed in the quarter. However, Lewis, who has come to life in the postseason, made his own three-pointer a minute-and-a-half later to give the Heat a two-point cushion at 54-52. 

After Duncan made two free throws to give the Spurs a six-point advantage, James would score all of Miami's points in an 8-0 run which would give them the upper hand again at 64-62. The quarter would end with the Spurs clinging to a precarious one-point lead.

Lewis' third three-pointer of the game would break an 80-all deadlock two minutes and 23 seconds into the fourth. The Spurs would counter with a short stab from Ginobili and a triple from Green more than a minute later. 

However, James was not yet done. 

He scored the Heat's next six points for a 90-87 Miami Heat with time down to five minutes left. A Boris Diaw triple, a Chris Andersen bucket and a Tony Parker three-pointer would set the stage for James, the four-time MVP.

Parker's triple resulted in a one-point San Antonio lead. James then drew the defense to him and kicked the ball back out to Bosh, who swished the ball right through the net -- a lead that Miami wouldn't relinquish. 

On the ensuing possession, Ginobili turned the ball over on a bad pass. Kawhi Leonard fouled James, who would split his charities. When the Spurs got the ball back, Ginobili missed a 19-foot jumper and the Heat secured the rebound. Miami ran the clock down before Bosh found a streaking Dwayne Wade cutting to the basket for the layup. Ginobili would make a three-pointer at the buzzer for the game's final count. 

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised James' all-around effort in Game 2, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde. 

"He's the best player in the game. He'll have a response. Does that mean it'll be 37 points? You don't know. He has a lot of ways to put his fingerprints on the game. We had two days to commiserate how that game went down. 

"Now we have to manage the other emotion. That can be just as difficult." 

Game 3 is scheduled for June 10 with a 9 p.m. EST tip-off at Miami's American Airlines Arena. 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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