SAN ANTONIO --- Postscripts from the Heat's 98-96 win over the Spurs in Game 2 of the Finals at AT&T Center:
### LeBron? His second half should be framed: 22 points (including 14 in the third), 8 for 11 shooting, three rebounds, one assist and no turnovers. He played exceptional defense on Tony Parker, including one critical late-game possession.
And he passed to Chris Bosh for the go-ahead three pointer with 1:18 left --- the same type of pass he has made to Bosh in several late-game situations in the past.
"It was a huge play to help us win," James said. "I caught Tim Duncan peeking at me a little bit. And I was able to find C.B. in the corner in one of his favorite spots on the floor and he knocked it down."
He closed with 35 points and 10 boards, completing a day that he said began with an 8 a.m. yoga class "with three other people and a little kid. That was the only thing I did differently today."
The air conditioning was working, the cramps were gone, and "mentally I didn't want to think about it too much."
LeBron opened 0 for 3 "but all my misses were in the paint. I was confident where I was getting on the floor. In the first half, I got into the paint, made some shots, put pressure on their defense. In the second half, they backed up off me and I shot it. Don't overthink. If they give me space, I shoot it. If they crowd me, I try to drive and make plays for me and my teammates."
### If there was something not quite right during the drudgery of the Heat’s regular season, it was pretty clear: The defensive intensity and precision and detail too often weren’t up to the standards Pat Riley and his successors demand in this no-excuses Heat culture. Chris Bosh complained in March that the Heat “couldn’t stop a nosebleed.”
The Heat’s field-goal percentage against, in the top six each of the previous three seasons of the Big Three era, slid to 15th. The Heat relinquished 2 ½ more points per game both this season, and this postseason, than a year ago.
The Heat’s defense again malfunctioned to start Game 2, with the Spurs opening 13 for 21 from the field, repeatedly penetrating into the paint and scoring an easy basket off an inbounds pass that left Dwyane Wade throwing up his hands in disgust.
But then something simple and critical happened: “We got in ‘em more,” as James put it.
The Heat’s defense was exemplary for most of the fourth quarter, and that was one of the three biggest reasons for this win, along with James’ monster eruption, and Bosh's late three. The Heat's fourth quarter defense, Ray Allen said, "was the difference."
Spurs shots in the fourth were fiercely challenged, with just a few exceptions. Close-outs on three-point shooters were quick and decisive. More often than not, Heat defenders kept Spurs players from driving past them, as Ray Allen did against Manu Ginobili on two late possessions that ended with a turnover and missed jumper. “I got lucky,” Allen said.
After shooting 14 for 16 in the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Spurs were 6 of 17 in Game 2. San Antonio closed at 43.9 percent from the field after shooting 58.8 percent in Game 1.
“We forced them to make shots over the top,” Allen said. “Better attention to detail.”
Wade said “we switched a little but gave them different looks. Guards were fighting over screens.”
The Heat fouled too much early in the fourth, putting the Spurs in the bonus for the final 6:42, but San Antonio missed four of six fourth-quarter free throws.
Part of this was maniacal effort. But there were other nuances. The Heat changed up its pick-and-roll defense at times to “throw them off,” as Rashard Lewis said.
And this was huge: Erik Spoelstra had a player with size defend Tony Parker for much of the second half --- James primarily and Wade at times.
And Chris Andersen (for large doses), Bosh and Lewis kept Tim Duncan in check the final third quarters. Duncan shot 5 for 6 in the first quarter, just 2 for 8 after that.
### You had to love Bosh’s attacking mentality. He scored 18 on 6 for 11 shooting and didn’t even attempt a three-pointer until the fourth quarter. His three with 1:18 left put the Heat ahead for good.
“One of the most stable, mentally tough guys I’ve ever been around,” Spoelstra said. “That’s why it raises the hair on the back of my neck when people question him.”
Bosh said if James is the most targeted player in the NBA, “I’m probably No. 2.” But more is needed on the glass than his three rebounds in 36 minutes.
### Spoelstra went slightly deeper into his bench, bypassing Shane Battier and opting instead for cameos for James Jones and Udonis Haslem.
Twice during these playoffs, James publicly expressed a desire for Jones to play more. Twice, Jones has played in the next game.
Jones logged nearly seven minutes, one fewer than he had played since the start of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jones missed both of his shots, but he helps spread the floor when James is on the court.
"Spo was great with his adjustments today, guys in and out," LeBron said.
### Biggest revelation of these Heat playoffs? Rashard Lewis, who played just 22 minutes between Feb. 1 and March 25. Lewis not only hit three three-pointers on a 14-point night but made a couple of nifty moves around the basket.
### Dwayne Wade, who closed with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and five turnovers: "We did a better job of finishing the game. We made mistakes. It wasn't a perfect game by no stretch of the imagination. It wasn't a perfect ending, but one, we had LeBron at the end, that was one of the differences. Two, we got fouled rebounding the ball. And we made them take tough shots."
### Gregg Popovich's take: "We made bad decisions. The ball stuck. We didn't do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we're not good enough to do that."
### Quick stuff: The Heat is now plus 11 with James on the court in this series and minus 24 with him off… The Heat has won at least one road playoff game in 16 consecutive series, extending its NBA-record streak. That’s remarkable. So is Miami winning 13 playoff games in a row after losses…. With Duncan hauling in 15 rebounds and Boris Diaw 10, James’ 10 rebounds and Andersen’s nine were huge. And Wade had seven.
### NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who succeeded David Stern on Feb. 1, said Sunday night that the breakdown of the air conditioning during Game 1 “is certainly not one of my prouder moments of my short tenure” and “wasn’t handled perfectly.”
Silver said that a few minutes before Game 1, the league was told that one of the main circuits that controls the water pump had broken. At&TCenter officials told the league they tried to reset it several times and determined late in the second quarter that they could not fix the circuit breaker. But the Heat was not informed of the problem until during the second quarter.
“There always are going to be human and mechanical errors and it’s unfortunate,” Silver said.
Silver said he wasn’t concerned about the possibility this series might be remembered for the malfunction. “I’m glad this isn’t single elimination,” he said.
### Asked if the breakup of the Heat or Thunder would be considered a success for the league under a labor deal designed to create competitive balance, Silver said: “I don’t know if I would necessarily call it a success. Our goal was not to break up teams. But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing.
“So to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that’s a positive thing for the league. Part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don’t see too much talent aggregated in one market.”
### Silver called the Heat “one of the best organizations in sports” and said “for all we know, LeBron James is just getting started.”
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