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LeBron James scores 35 points; this time it's the Spurs that can't handle the Heat

LeBron James of the Miami Heat celebrates a

LeBron James of the Miami Heat celebrates a point in the final seconds of Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, June 8, 2014 in San Antonio. Credit: Getty Images / Robyn Beck

SAN ANTONIO - Inside the comfortably cool arena, Spurs fans wouldn't have complained if the air conditioning had conked out again Sunday night, given the unstoppable freight train their team was trying to slow down.

LeBron James was scorching again, but this was the good kind of scorching. He was so hot offensively that the slightest contact with his 6-8 frame could've singed a finger.

Even though the temperature was a shade under 70 degrees -- making it feel much cooler in the AT&T Center than the stifling atmosphere in Game 1, the result of a malfunctioning air-conditioning system -- James had little trouble getting his game to heat up three nights after his severe cramping episode.

He scored 35 points, finishing two shy of his Finals career high, and added 10 rebounds to propel the Heat to a series-evening 98-96 win over the Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

The series shifts to Miami for Game 3 Tuesday night.

"I just continued to attack," James said. "I just got off to a slow start."

The Heat has gone 47 straight playoff games without consecutive losses, the third-longest streak in NBA history. The last time Miami dropped consecutive games was the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, when the Heat faltered in Games 3, 4 and 5.

James & Co. have won 13 consecutive playoff games after a loss, a remarkable streak that shows the Heat's resiliency.

Chris Bosh scored 18 points, including a late three-pointer, and made a nice pass to Dwyane Wade for a layup that gave the Heat a 98-93 lead with 9.4 seconds left. Wade and Rashard Lewis added 14 points each.

For the Spurs, Tony Parker had 21 points and seven assists, Patty Mills added 19 points off the bench and Tim Duncan had 18 points and 15 rebounds.

San Antonio faltered down the stretch, turning it over and going cold. The beautiful ball movement that was so prevalent in the first half vanished and the Spurs' offense went stagnant, leading to a 6-for-17 showing in the fourth quarter. They also shot 2-for-6 from the free-throw line in a final quarter in which there were five lead changes.

Parker's three-pointer with 2:26 left gave the Spurs a 93-92 lead, but they didn't score again until Manu Ginobili hit a meaningless three-pointer just before the buzzer.

It was a disappointing end to a game the Spurs could have won if they had made another play here or there.

Or stopped James.

"We didn't expect him to shoot that well, but he got hot," Danny Green said. "That's what stars do in this league. You got to make adjustments. What hurt us is we got outrebounded and we didn't shoot too well from the free-throw line."

After three days of nonstop chatter in which many outsiders questioned why James didn't get some more fluids in him and simply suck it up late in Game 1, he said he wasn't the least bit eager to silence the critics.

But some of the mean-mugging he did after some heat-check-type buckets likely said otherwise, further underscoring just how ready James was to keep the Heat from falling into a 2-0 playoff series deficit for the first time since he joined forces with Wade and Bosh to form Miami's Big Three.

James missed his first three shots before hammering down a righthanded stuff. He had a confident bounce in his step soon thereafter, immersing himself in a stretch in which he canned 12 of 15 shots.

After a brief rest to start the fourth quarter, James checked in with 9:22 left and the Heat ahead 83-80. His pull-up three-pointer with 6:09 remaining gave Miami an 88-87 lead. After Parker put San Antonio ahead, James found Bosh wide open for a corner three-pointer that gave Miami a 95-93 lead with 1:18 left.

"As soon as my guy leaves, one of two things are going to happen," Bosh said. "LeBron is going to shoot it and I'm getting back on defense, or he's going to pass to me and I'm going to shoot it. I know some people always question the motive and, you know, your opportunity. When you have the chance, you take it."

After scoring only two points in the first quarter, James sparked the Heat the rest of the half, scoring 11 of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter, including a stretch in which he had eight straight points and gave Miami a 34-33 edge, its first lead of the game, on a putback with 5:07 left.

"At that time, you're just happy he's on your team and that he's not on the opposite team," Wade said. "There are not many guys that can stop him when he gets going that way, especially when he starts hitting his outside shots. He stepped up big for us in that quarter and really got us over the hump."

James spent the previous few days hydrating himself and took a yoga class Sunday at the team hotel, but he said he didn't do anything out of his usual pregame routine Sunday night after needing 21/2 IVs and seven anti-cramping pills during and after Game 1.

Perhaps he shouldn't change things up in Game 3, either -- not after turning in the kind of performance that further solidifies his status as the world's elite player.

"Look, he's the best player in the game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. " . . . He has an incredible way to put his fingerprints on a game in a lot of different areas."

Scorching-hot fingertips.

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