Heat knot series with Spurs

Spurs forward Tim Duncan defends Heat forward LeBron James during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the...

Spurs forward Tim Duncan defends Heat forward LeBron James during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, June 13, 2013. (DERICK E. HINGLE/Reuters/Pool)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:22 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO - The NBA Finals is now a best-of-three.

Showing trademark resilience in bouncing back from Tuesday’s laugher, the Miami Heat regained momentum in what has been a fascinating and at times brilliantly played series with a convincing 109-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Led by the Big Three – a rejuvenated LeBron James who scored 33 points, Dwyane Wade, who added 32 and Chris Bosh, who had a 20-point, 13 rebound effort and a disruptive defence – the Heat looked significantly better.

No surprise there, since no NBA team of recent vintage has been as effective in reacting to adversity as this group, 6-0 in the playoffs after losing a game and without back-to-back losses since Jan. 8-10.

“Ever since the buzzer sounded in Game 3, nobody felt good. There was an edge to our team for 48 hours,” explained Miami’s Shane Battier.

“Yesterday was a miserable day. Probably one of the strengths of this team is instead of pointing fingers or deflecting, it's just getting to the heart of the matter. And we were all horrible. So there was a better response,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.

Facing perhaps the biggest game of its campaign – up there with Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers last round – and coming off a nearly historic blowout loss, the Heat remained confident.

And more than a little red-faced, both from anger and from embarrassment.

Knowing the Spurs have a “championship pedigree,” James and Wade proved that they do as well.

James scored 11 points in the first quarter, Wade added 10 and both excelled again in the third after cooling a bit in the second frame.

James – just 7-for-21 in Game 3 and below 40% shooting for the series had said pre-game that he knew the difference between being aggressive and being out of control.

That was evident early. James got to the line, got to the post and put his stamp all over the proceedings.

“Before I even made a shot I came into the game confident. I knew what my mindset was going to be. I didn't worry about last game. Last game was history. And I just worried in the present,” James said.

But, as good as James was, it was the re-emergence of Wade that lifted the Heat. Most people expected James to step up with a big night. Those that had seen Wade, sore knee and all, hobbling through these playoffs, noticed that Miami had been better without him on the floor than on.

Until Thursday, when the superstar, vintage version of Wade came out of nowhere, most notably, when he hoisted his team on his back late in the third quarter.

“That wasn’t D-Wade, whatever they call him now, Asterisk, that was the Flash, that was 2006 Flash in the house tonight,” raved Battier.

“That’s what you call ROI – return on investment – money well spent tonight. When those guys are rolling we just want to support them. Make the tough little plays to make their jobs easier.

“The Big Three had a huge night but it was a great team win in an adverse situation.”

On the ropes after a Gary Neal three-pointer, Wade responded again, making a driving layup while being fouled and connecting on the ensuing free throw, before later grabbing a huge rebound to help the Heat maintain a five-point leading heading into the fourth quarter.

Once there, Wade went to work on the Spurs again, sandwiching a vicious dunk around pretty jump shots.

Wade was averaging 14.2 points per game in these playoffs, half as many as he averaged when Miami won the 2006 title. He had 14 midway through the first half.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had said recently that Wade was always there when needed most and he showed it again.

With Bosh helping as well – together they cracked the 30-point barrier for the first time in eight games, the Heat were in business.

But again, thanks to the scorching Danny Green (three more threes) and the elusive Tony Parker (who said he got fatigued in the second half due to a hamstring injury, but still managed to score 15 points with nine assists), the Spurs would not go away through most of the evening.

Miami looked to be rolling, but San Antonio made a late charge to close the first half to tie the game and a late Bosh dunk was waved off because he took too long to throw it down.

The half was a bit like the first 24 minutes of Game 1, when Miami played well but couldn’t prevent the Spurs from hanging around. San Antonio eventually rallied to take that one.

Miami again failed to take advantage of Spurs turnovers, getting just 13 points off of 10 first-half Spurs turnovers.

Eventually, San Antonio’s miscues (18 turnovers) added up and Miami’s ability to avoid mistakes (just nine turnovers) while executing on offence, made this a very interesting series again.

Miami has now won its past 12 games following a loss and has regained home-court advantage with only one game remaining in Texas.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos