Heat holds off Thunder, 100-96

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison fouls Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison fouls Miami Heat small forward LeBron James during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA finals. (June 14, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The NBA scoring champ did his thing in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and almost did it again Thursday night. But it was the MVP's turn in Game 2.

LeBron James scored 32 points, including a huge fourth-quarter bank shot and two free throws in the closing seconds that enabled the Heat to hold off a furious rally by the Thunder for a 100-96 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Kevin Durant also scored 32 points. He led the Thunder back from 17 down in the first half and 12 behind in the fourth and had a chance to tie it.

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With the score 98-96, Durant missed a short turnaround from the baseline over James with 9.9 seconds left. James got the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws with 7.1 seconds left to preserve a huge victory that sends the best-of-seven series to Miami for the next three games tied at 1-1.

"I'm happy I was able to go up there and make a few plays, go up there and make my free throws," James said. "We needed it. We needed every point."

James has been criticized for not coming up big in the fourth quarters in the Finals, but he played a great all-around game.

He made a tough pull-up bank shot with 1:26 left after the Thunder pulled within three and had eight rebounds and five assists. He shot 12-for-12 from the free-throw line and made all four attempts in the fourth quarter.

"We want to make enough plays to win basketball games, not to answer any questions about what people have to say about us," James said.

"He's at the point now, whatever it takes," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James got the help he needed from the other two members of the Heat's Big Three -- Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- and another unexpected big outing from Shane Battier as Miami handed the Thunder its first postseason loss in 10 home games.

Wade had 24 points and five assists. Bosh finally returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench the previous four games and had 16 points and 15 rebounds. Battier hit five three-pointers, including a straightaway bank shot in the fourth, and finished with 17 points.

Durant, who had 17 fourth-quarter points in Game 1, played most of the final period of Game 2 with five fouls and was brilliant. He scored 16 in the quarter.

Off a Wade turnover, Durant drilled a three in transition to make it 98-96 with 37.5 seconds left. After James missed a three-pointer on the next trip, the Thunder couldn't have asked for a better shot. The NBA's best scorer had the ball on the left baseline with James a little out of position. He recovered and got into Durant, who made a quick move, stepped back and shot a 7-foot shot. There was some contact but no call.

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"I was open," Durant said. "I missed the shot. I think I shot a good shot. That's a shot I shoot all the time. I just missed it."

James said, "I just tried to keep a body on him and make him take a tough one."

The Thunder's Russell Westbrook had 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists but shot 10-for-26. James Harden had 21 points off the bench.

The Heat jumped all over the Thunder and led 18-2 and 25-8. But Oklahoma City has won during these playoffs after falling behind by double-digits, including the previous two games.

Miami went ahead 82-69 with 9:35 left, but Oklahoma City got within 94-91 with 1:47 to go when Westbrook put back Durant's miss.

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Wade drove and fed Bosh for a dunk to make it 98-91 with 53.8 seconds to go. The Thunder still had something left, but a potential game-tying shot that came up just short allowed Miami to head home with the series even.

"It meant everything," James said. "We had played too well in the first 36 minutes to let this one slip away from us."

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