MIAMI — The moment arrived. Players were spent, the emotional and physical toll zapping them of almost everything they had.
LeBron James had the ball at the top of the key. He drove right and with San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard guarding him, James pulled up and drilled a 19-foot jump shot with 27.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter. He pumped his fists and the crowd went crazy.
With that shot of adrenaline, James stole the ball on the next possession, made the free throws and secured the victory.
These are his kind of moments.
“He probably lost 12-15 pounds in this playoff run, expending so much energy,” said his coach Erik Spoelstra.
James finished with a game-high 37 points and led the Miami Heat to a 95-88 victory vs. the Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, giving Miami its second consecutive NBA championship.
James, the four-time MVP, was named Finals MVP for the second consecutive season.
The game was back and forth throughout. The Spurs’ biggest lead was seven at 11-4 and the Heat’s was six on a couple of occasions until the final seconds. This was the kind of game you expect in a Game 7, and the third competitive game of the series.
Tim Duncan of the Spurs had 24 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.
“Tim Duncan is one of the greatest players of all time,” Wade said. “If I’m able to do what Tim Duncan did at 37 years old, I’m happy. That guy is a warrior.”
It was Miami 72, San Antonio 71 at the start of the fourth quarter. What more could you ask after 27 quarters and one overtime in the Finals? It was 90-88 Heat with under a minute to play and the Spurs had the ball.
Best-of-nine anyone? Two proud, fatigued champions went at it with effort and skill that got them this far. Miami had more — not by a lot — but more.
“Everything. It took everything we had as a team,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We’re a resilient team. We did whatever it took.”
Throughout the series, the Spurs dared James to shoot three-pointers. James revealed a truth in what he called the biggest game of his life. He shot a career-high 40.6% on three-pointers this season and buried the Spurs with five threes on Thursday.
The Heat finally won back-to-back games in the playoffs – something they hadn’t done since the end of the Chicago Bulls series and start of the Indiana Pacers series – and overcame a 3-2 deficit. With Miami winning the series 4-3, it was also the first time the Spurs trailed in any of their five Finals appearances. [USA Today]