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 it’s 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 I’ve 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 you’re never going to be able to recreate once you’re done playing the game and I’m blessed to be a part of something like this.”
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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 Parker’s 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 Green’s three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the win and force Game 7.
It’s 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, didn’t 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: “It’s going to be a shot that I’m 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 Bosh’s 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 couldn’t 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.
“Look, if you said September 29th when we started on our trip going to China if we could decide this season with a Game 7 in our building, every single one of us would take it. You, they’re the best two words in the world, Game 7.”
Miami defeated the Indiana Pacers 99-76 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat led 89-86 with 2:09 to play but, after an offensive rebound by the Spurs following a mad scramble for a loose ball, Parker drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 89-89. The Spurs increased their lead to 93-89 before Allen’s heroics. Allen finished with nine points, going 3 of 8 from the field and 1 of 3 from three-point range.
“He’s got ice water in his veins,” James said of Allen. “We’re happy to have him on our side and this is the reason why we wanted him for games like this.”
Parker finished with 19 points and eight assists and Many Ginobili had nine points, attempting just five shots after exploding for 24 points in Game 6. The Spurs went 18 of 58 (31 percent) from the field in the second half and overtime.
The sound inside AmericanAirlines Arena as Mike Miller’s arcing three-pointer traveled toward the rim with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter was not unlike the gradual hush of a tide rolling back just before a breaker pounds the sand. When the three-pointer dropped, cutting the Spurs deficit to four points, the arena exploded with the sound of a 100-foot tidal wave. After so many sullen minutes in relative silence, AmericanAirlines Arena was alive again and so was the series. The Heat trailed by 13 points with less than four minutes remaining the third quarter.
“It’s obviously disappointing having the lead we had going into the fourth quarter,” Duncan said. “I don’t know what happened in the fourth and overtime. The opportunities just weren’t there.”
Miller finished with eight points, going 3 of 4 from the field and 2 of 2 for three-point range. Shane Battier also had nine points, going 3 of 4 from three-point range.
Wade inflamed his already-injured knee early in the first quarter and the pain appeared to affect him for the rest of the night. He knocked knees with Ginobili during a baseline drive only a few minutes into the game and went to the ground in considerable agony. At halftime, Wade stayed in the locker room for extra treatment while Allen started the third quarter.