Heat beat Thunder to take 2-1 Finals lead
MIAMI, June 18 — The Miami Heat held off Oklahoma City Thunder after a scintillating fourth-quarter battle to claim a 91-85 Game Three victory and seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven National Basketball Association Finals yesterday.
LeBron James led the scoring with 29 points and sank the second of two free throws with 16.2 seconds left to give Miami a four-point lead. After the Thunder's Thabo Sefalosha threw away an inbounds pass Dwyane Wade then sank two more free throws to cap the win.
Both teams played ferocious defense down the stretch, and the Heat had to overcome nine turnovers in the fourth quarter to retain home court advantage with the next two games in Miami.
James, the NBA's Most Valuable Player, said it was hard to get good shots.
“Both teams are very active defensively,” he said in an on-court interview. “Both teams make it hard on one another to get shots. When you get stops you try to get early offense. It always helps. We were able to do that a little bit tonight.”
Miami surged to an 86-79 lead with just over two minutes to go but the Thunder hit back with six points in a row, turning Game Three into a cliffhanger at 86-85 with 90 seconds left.
Miami's Chris Bosh made a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game before James and Wade finished off Oklahoma City for good with free throws after being fouled.
James shot 11-of-23 from the floor, despite doing virtually all his damage from inside, and hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Wade contributed 25 points for Miami, with Bosh the next highest for the Heat with 10.
Kevin Durant, who flirted with foul trouble in the second half, led Oklahoma City with 25 points and Russell Westbrook added 19.
Game Four of the championship series will be played in Miami on Tuesday. — Reuters