LeBron scores 37 in Game 7 as Heat repeats
MIAMI - LeBron James fulfilled his goal of winning multiple titles with the Heat and joined elite company by being a back-to-back champion.
The Heat repeated and James repeated as the Finals MVP after he scored 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Miami's 95-88 win over the Spurs in Game 7 Thursday night.
"It feels great," James said. "This team is amazing. The vision that I had when I decided to come here has all come true. To win back-to-back championships it's an unbelievable feeling."
This scintillating series that produced a Game 6 for the ages that the Heat rallied to win in overtime ended with another classic .
The Spurs bounced back from Tuesday's devastating loss, battling Miami on a night when Tony Parker (3-for-12, 10 points) was ineffective and benched the final 27.9 seconds and North Babylon's Danny Green struggled through a 1-for-12 performance.
Miami had only a two-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go. But James wouldn't let the Heat lose in the first Game 7 in the Finals since Kobe Bryant led the Lakers over Boston in 2010.
James knocked down a pull-up jumper to make it 92-88 with 27.9 seconds to go. He came up with a steal on the other end, was fouled and hit the two foul shots to put Miami up six with 23.5 seconds remaining.
Manu Ginobili missed a three-pointer that Dwyane Wade tracked down and the Heat started celebrating the franchise's third championship since 2006.
Had the Heat lost and Tim Duncan captured his fifth NBA championship, James would have been criticized for being runner-up twice in the three years since taking his talents to South Beach.
But with the Spurs forcing James to beat them from the outside his jumper fell. He finished 12-for-23, including 5-for-10 from three and had a great game in a defining moment.
"This is what it's all about," James said. "I came here to win championships. To be able to go back to back, two championships in three years so far, it's the ultimate."
Wade, slowed by knee issues this postseason, played his best game of the series. He had 23 points and 10 rebounds and won his third ring.
"This is huge," Wade said. "This is the sweetest one by far because of everything we've been through, everything I've been through individually. To have this kind of performance, special man, very special."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "Dwyane Wade and LeBron James played Hall-of-Fame basketball tonight."
Chris Bosh was scoreless, but Shane Battier played a major role in Miami's title. Battier shot 6 of 8 from three and scored 18 points. He totaled 21 points the first six games of the series.
Duncan led the Spurs with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but in the final minute he missed a hook shot in the lane and a put-back. Kawhi Leonard added 19 points and 16 rebounds and Ginobili had 18. Green, who was under the weather, had five points. He was terrific the first five games and set a Finals record with 27 three-pointers.
The Spurs were 6-for-20 from the field in the fourth and committed seven turnovers.
"I still have Game 6 in my head," Ginobili said.
Despite starting the fourth 4-for-11 with five turnovers, the Spurs were down only 85-82 when Green stole the ball, but he misfired on a three with 4:07 left. Battier then buried his sixth three to put Miami up 88-82. Duncan scored on a banker and converted the three-point play to make it 88-85 with 3:11 left.
After a Wade layup, Leonard hit a three to bring San Antonio within 90-88 with 2:00 left.
Mario Chalmers missed two foul shots with 1:39 left, but Leonard misfired on a go-ahead three. After two Miami misses, Duncan couldn't convert two chances to tie the game and James put the Spurs and the series away.
"He always rises to the moment when it matters the most." Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James has the hardware to prove it.