MIAMI -- LeBron James missed layups in transition, had a shot inside blocked by Danny Green and just didn't seem to have the same burst or explosiveness he usually has. That changed in the fourth quarter.
James and the Heat ran San Antonio off the AmericanAirlines Arena floor, outscoring the Spurs 33-5 in a span of 7:58 and earning a 103-84 victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night. The series is tied at 1-1.
With the series shifting to San Antonio for Games 3, 4 and 5, this was a must-win for the Heat. The defending champions knew the dangers of being down 2-0 heading into Game 3 Tuesday night, and James, with plenty of help from his teammates, made sure that didn't happen.
The Heat trailed 62-61 after Green's layup with 3:50 left in the third. But beginning with Mario Chalmers' three-point play with 3:11 to play in the third, Miami steamrollered the Spurs, reeling off that 33-5 run to open a 94-67 lead with 7:13 left. "We wanted to put them away and send them a message," Chalmers said.
Chalmers had 19 points and James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. He was 7-for-17 from the field, but in the fourth, he shot 4-for-4 and had nine points, two assists and one emphatic block. When the Spurs' Tiago Splitter went in for a tomahawk dunk, James stuffed the 6-11 center's attempt.
"A lot of players wouldn't go for that," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The risk-reward, and they weigh that right away and the possibility of being dunked on and being on a highlight film. It takes great courage to go up and make one of those plays."
"I just wanted to make an impact some way," James said. "Basically, I told myself you'll end up on SportsCenter where you're going to get dunked on or you're going to get a block. I just pride myself on that side of the floor. It didn't matter to me. I was going to try and protect the rim the best way I could."
James wasn't done, either. After turning toward the crowd in a look-at-what-I-did way, he fed Ray Allen for a three-pointer. Moments later, Mike Miller stole the ball from Tony Parker and fed James for a breakaway dunk.
Allen finished with 13 points. Chris Bosh had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Miller was 3-for-3 from three-point range for nine points. "LeBron couldn't get into a rhythm early on, and other guys stepped up," Spoelstra said.
Wasted in the Spurs' loss was a great game by North Babylon's Green. He shot 6-for-6, including 5-for-5 on three-pointers -- an NBA Finals record for most makes without a miss -- and led San Antonio with 17 points. Kawhi Leonard blanketed James defensively for three quarters and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Parker shot 5-for-14 from the field and had 13 points and five turnovers. He had 21 points and no turnovers in Game 1. Tim Duncan shot 3-for-13 and had nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Spurs had four turnovers in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2, leading to 19 Heat points.
"They outplayed us," Duncan said. "We didn't play well. We didn't shoot well. I know I played awfully."
Neither team was able to get separation until the Heat's burst.
Miami ended the third quarter on a 14-3 run. Chalmers started and ended it with three-point plays and assisted on two of Miami's other three baskets.
"He's got guts," Spoelstra said. "He's got incredible confidence. He's shown that throughout the years. You have to have guts to play with our teams. If you don't, you get swallowed up."
The Heat scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter. James had four and assisted on a three-pointer by Miller that made it 84-65. Duncan never got off the bench in the quarter.
"They responded better than us," Duncan said. "Hopefully we can look forward to Game 3 and regain some of our composure."