It will be remembered as the night Ray Allen bailed out LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and, quite possibly, saved a championship for the Miami Heat.
Allen stroked a clutch three-pointer to force overtime and then made a key defensive play in the final seconds of the extra period to give the Heat a 103-100 victory against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night. Game 7, otherwise known as American sports heaven, is on Thursday.
If its anything like Game 6, prepare yourself for a crazy night of rollercoaster emotions and more unbelievable twists than a cheap mystery novel.
It was by far the best game Ive ever been a part of, James said. The ups and downs, the rollercoaster, the emotions, good and bad throughout the whole game. To be a part of something like this is something youre never going to be able to recreate once youre done playing the game and Im blessed to be a part of something like this.
James layup with 1:43 left in overtime gave the Heat a 101-100 lead and the Heat held on with key defensive stops from Allen and Chris Bosh.
Bosh blocked Tony Parkers game-winning attempt in the final minute and, after a miss by Dwyane Wade, Allen stripped Parker under the Spurs basket and drew a foul. Allen coolly made both free throws to give the Heat a 103-100 cushion. Bosh then blocked Danny Greens three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the win and force Game 7.
Its a good thing Allen was calm under pressure because James was anything but in the final minute of regulation.
It was as if James, the best basketball player on the planet, didnt know what to do with the ball on his final two possessions of the fourth quarter. He turned it over twice in the final minute and appeared to doom the Heat and its attempt to repeat as NBA champions. The Heat trailed by five points with 28 seconds left but rallied to the tie the game.
A baseline three-pointer by Allen tied the game at 95-95 with 5.2 seconds left and pandemonium ensued. After a timeout, Parker missed a layup at buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
He saved our season, Chris Bosh said of Allen.
Said Allen: Its going to be a shot that Im going to remember for a long time.
While he struggled late, James all but carried the Heat to the finish line, scoring 23 points in the second half and finishing with 32 points and a triple-double. He was 11 of 26 from the field to go along with 10 rebounds and 11 assists. After the turnovers, James made a key three-pointer with 20.1 seconds remaining to cut the Spurs lead to 94-92 and set the stage for Allen. Leonard, the Spurs forward, missed a free throw with 19.4 seconds left that, in all likelihood, would have clinched the championship for San Antonio.
Mario Chalmers finished with 20 points, going 7 of 11 from the field and 4 of 5 from three-pointer range, and Wade had 14 points on a night he bashed his injured knee in the first quarter. Bosh had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
C.B. made some unbelievable plays tonight, James said, recounting Boshs offensive rebound/game-saving assist with 6.3 seconds left in regulation. James missed a three-pointer with 7.9 seconds left but Bosh kept the possession alive.
The Heat won despite being outscored 60-36 in the paint. The Heat was 11 of 19 (57.9) from three-point range overall but couldnt stop Tim Duncan, who had 30 points on 21 shots. The timeless power forward went 13 of 21 from field and had 17 rebounds. He scored 25 points in the first half.