Miami Heat | Ray Allen

Ray Allen’s late three saves Miami Heat’s season in Game 6

 
WEB VOTE Which former Heat player would you have loved to see on this current team in his prime?

abeasley@miamiherald.com

Danny Green left his man and lunged for the rebound. Tony Parker was a step late in recovery.

Together, the breakdowns gave Ray Allen a half-a-breath of space.

More than enough to play the hero -- and save the Heat's season.

Allen's game-tying, physics-defying -- and possibly career-defining -- shot happened fast.

The scramble for a loose ball. Allen's moonwalk to the perfect spot, just beyond the three-point line. And his impossibly quick catch-and-release.

Yet, as he told it later, the bucket was the result of a lifetime of practice.

"Believe it or not, I work on it quite often," said Allen, who finished Miami's 103-100 Game 6 Houdini act victory against San Antonio with 9 points, including two critical free throws in overtime. "I try to put my body in precarious situations coming from different parts of the floor, different angles to try to get my momentum going forward.

"When it went in, I was ecstatic," he added. "But at the same time I was expecting to make it."

Confident? No doubt about it. But that's what happens when you're the league's all-time record holder for made three-pointers.

And it's precisely the reason the Heat lured him away from Boston last summer.

"He's got ice water in his veins," said LeBron James.

Chris Bosh said Allen saved Miami's season.

And Erik Spoelstra?

"Ray did what he's done for so many years," he quipped.

True. But never quite like this. Never to salvage an NBA Finals elimination game, when a miss not only results in a year-ending loss, but also brings down a cacophony of scorn and ridicule upon his team from everyone outside South Florida.

Doubtful any of that was on Allen's mind when, with the Heat down three to the Spurs, he saw Chris Bosh corral LeBron James' miss with just seconds remaining in regulation. Acting on instinct, Allen dashed back behind the three-point line.

He had already lost Green, the Spurs' wingman assigned to cover him. And he released the ball just before Parker (who would likely be the series MVP this morning, had Allen missed) could disrupt his shot.

The shot was pure. The arena? Bedlam.

"It's going to be a shot that I'm going to remember for a long time," Allen said. "There's a lot of shots that I've made in my career, but this will go high up in the ranks because of the situation."

Allen is being modest. He's made an astounding number of three-point shots in his career. Two thousand, eight hundred and fifty-seven of them in the regular season. Three hundred fifty-two more in the playoffs.

But quite likely, none bigger than the one early Wednesday morning in downtown Miami. The one that saved the Heat's season.

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