MIAMI — Breaking open a close game in the second half, the Miami Heat stormed back again, evening the NBA Finals at a game apiece with a 103-84 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
Heat star LeBron James was held in check as a scorer for the second straight game, but he played facilitator with excellent success Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
He finished with 17 points, seven assists and eight rebounds. He also had two blocks, including a spectacular rejection of Tiago Splitter, who was trying to dunk on him in the fourth quarter.
James’ all-around play helped overcome the Spurs, who led by one point with three minutes left in the third quarter. The Heat then went on a 33-5 run.
The Heat’s leading scorer was not one of its “Big Three.” Point guard Mario Chalmers had 19 points. Heat stars Dwyane Wade (10 points, all in the first half) and Chris Bosh (12 points, 10 in the first half) also contributed.
The Heat snapped the Spurs’ seven-game playoff win streak by showing their trademark resiliency. Miami has not lost consecutive games since Jan. 10.
The venue now shifts to the AT&T Center in San Antonio for three straight games in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is Tuesday night.
The Heat, which was nearly unbeatable from Feb. 3 through the first two rounds of the playoffs, going 45-3, has suddenly gone relatively cold. Even with Sunday’s win, Miami is just 5-4 in its past nine games.
But don’t tell that to the Spurs, who struggled on offense and defense.
Danny Green led San Antonio with 17 points, making all six of his shots, including five 3-pointers. However, the Heat held down Spurs stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Still, the Spurs left Miami with at least some sense of accomplishment, having split the two games on the road.
The Spurs also have to feel pretty good about their veteran core. Duncan (nine points, 11 rebounds), Parker (13 points) and Ginobili (five points) have won 98 playoff games as a group. The only trio ever to win more was the Lakers’ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper with 110.
The Heat went on a 23-3 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. That burst pretty much put the Spurs away.
Miami closed the third quarter with a rush to take a 75-65 lead. It was the first double-digit lead for either team in the series.
The Heat led 50-45 at the half after neither team led by more than five points. Wade and Mario Chalmers led the Heat with 10 first-half points each, and Chris Andersen went 3-for-3 for seven points.
That helped make up for James’ relatively quiet first half. He had just four points on 2-of-7 shooting.
San Antonio’s first-half wild card was guard Danny Green, who had 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting, all on 3-pointers.
The teams were tied 22-22 after the first quarter. The Spurs, who turned the ball over just four times Thursday, had four giveaways in Sunday’s first quarter.
NOTES: The Heat have trailed in five of their past seven playoff series. In each previous case, Miami came back to win those series — against the Chicago Bulls this year and the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder last year. … The Spurs’ four turnovers in Game 1 tied a record for fewest miscues in an NBA Finals game. … Breaking down Parker’s off-balance shot to help beat the Heat on Thursday: He stumbled through a Chris Bosh-Norris Cole double-team; James picked up Parker; Cole swiped at the ball, knocking Parker to one knee; Parker got up and pump-faked James. Parker then leaned in, and his bank shot trickled in after bouncing off the front rim and then the right side of the rim. … James’ triple-double Thursday was his 10th in the playoffs, tying him with Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird for third on the all-time list. Jason Kidd is second with 11, and Magic Johnson is way out front with 30. … According to a report in The Miami Herald, Wade spent part of Saturday at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, watching reigning World Cup soccer champ Spain play Haiti. Other celebrities there included singer Shakira and Minnesota Timberwolves G Ricky Rubio, a native of Spain.