They came very close to blowing a double-digit fourth quarter lead, but the Miami Heat survived a late outburst by the Oklahoma City Thunder to win Game 2 of the NBA Finals, 100-96. LeBron James scored 32 points, the last two on free throws with under 10 seconds to go to ice the game. The Heat tied the NBA Finals at one game apiece, winning on the road down a game for the third playoff series in a row.
James added 8 rebounds and 5 assists, shooting 10 of 22 and a perfect 12 for 12 from the charity stripe. 14 of those shots came from the paint, a far cry from his jumper-happy Game 1 performance. It was his fifth straight 30-point game, breaking a franchise playoff record held by Dwyane wade.
"We've been down. We've withstood rallies. The good thing about it, when they scored, we didn't get our head down. We just got back on offense and started to execute," James said. "It's a great team that we're going against. So we're going to need every effort, every play and it's going to take all the way down to zeroes on that clock to get a win."
Wade and Chris Bosh both bounced back from weak performances in Game 2. Wade scored 24 points on 10 of 20 shooting with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot just 7 of 19 in Game 1.
Starting for the first time since injuring himself in Game 1 of the second round, Bosh dropped 16 points with 15 rebounds, 7 on the offensive glass. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Bosh made the decision himself to start, walking onto the court in practice when Spoelstra called for the starters on the court.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points, 16 of which came in the fourth quarter. Picking up his fifth foul with 10:31 to go in the game, it looked like Durant might not be able to stay on the floor. But OKC coach Scott Brooks refused to sit him, and he responded with a performance that almost brought the Thunder back.
The Heat opened the game on a tear, taking an early 18-2 lead by building opportunities in transition thanks to a swarming defense. The Thunder missed 11 of its first 12 jump shots. By halftime, the Heat were up 55-43, and only James Harden's 17 first-half points kept the game from getting out of hand.
Miami led 78-67 after three quarters, establishing control early by starting the game on an 18-2 run. But the Thunder scored seemingly at will in the fourth quarter (with Miami committing 5 turnovers in the final quarter). The Heat's lead had dwindled to 4 points with 6 minutes to go, then three points with 1:47 left. Miami widened its lead to 7 with under a minute to go, seemingly putting the Thunder away.
But then the Thunder scored a quick bucket, then Derek Fisher deflected a Wade pass into James Harden's hands, and a Durant three-pointer follows to cut the lead to two. On the next possession, Miami killed the clock before a ill-conceived three-point attempt from James that missed.
On the other end, Durant missed a pull-up jumper on the baseline, on which James got away with a foul. He then grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 7 seconds to go, whereupon he hit the aforementioned free throws to ice the game.
Shane Battier scored 17 points, shooting 5 of 7 from three-point range. It was his third straight game hitting at least four from downtown, the first time in his career he accomplished that.
After being outscored in the paint in Game 1, Miami outscored OKC in the paint 48-32. The Heat also forced 14 turnovers, scoring 17 points off those turnovers.
The loss was the Thunder's first at home in 10 playoff games. Now the series heads to Miami for three games, beginning with Game 3 at 8:00 on Sunday night.