Miami Heat rebounded from its NBA Finals opening game loss in emphatic style on Sunday, crushing the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 in game two to square the best-of-seven series.
It was a total team effort from Miami, and it needed it with LeBron James (17 points) not at his explosive best. Four other Heat players stepped up to reach double figures — Mario Chalmers top scoring with 19.
San Antonio’s ‘Big Three’ of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan combined were just 10 for 33, with Duncan’s 3-13 shooting his worst in an NBA Finals game.
“They outplayed us,” said Duncan, “We didn’t play well, we didn’t shoot well and I know I played awfully.”
After a first half that mirrored the tight nature of game one, with Spurs’ Danny Green scoring four of four three-pointers, Miami broke away in the third and headed into the final quarter with a 75-65 lead.
League MVP James was strangely ineffective on offensive, however, managing just eight points on three of 13 shooting through three quarters and missing a couple of routine lay-ups.
However, he came alive late in the third and carried a more aggressive approach through the fourth as Heat finally produced the offensive power that was the hallmark of its form until the Finals.
“When I was struggling offensively, my teammates continued to keep it in range and we even had the lead,” said James.
“I think Rio (Chalmers) more than anybody kept us aggressive... it allowed me to sit back and wait for my time,” he added.
Miami’s devastating 33-5 run put the game well beyond Spurs, whose coach Gregg Popovich opted to play the final portion of the fourth quarter with reserves on the court.
Ray Allen and Mike Miller each chipped in a trio of three-pointers for the Heat while Chris Andersen went three of three shooting for nine points.
James, who like Heat’s other starters also sat out the latter minutes, finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists but before taking his rest, he brought the crowd to its feet with a stunning block on a Tiago Splitter dunk.
Spurs’ game one standout Tony Parker was handled superbly by Chalmers and limited to 13 points on 5-14 shooting. After committing only four turnovers in game one, Spurs gave up 16 on Sunday.
Popovich praises Heat
Spurs head coach Popovich said there was no question of fatigue and no excuses for his team’s performance.
“Miami did a hell of a job. Nobody is tired, we had two days off, there’s no excuse. The season does get long for both teams but they would both rather be here than at home. So it’s not about tired,” he said.
Game three is on Tuesday in San Antonio, the first of three games in Texas before the series returns — if needed — to Miami for the final two games.
The result: Game 2: Miami Heat 103 (Mario Chalmers 19, LeBron James 17, Ray Allen 13, Chris Bosh 12, Dwyane Wade 10) bt San Antonio Spurs 84 (Daniel Green 17, Tony Parker 13, Gary Neal 10). Series 1-1. — Agencies