SAN ANTONIO — This time, the other guys were left in pain.
LeBron James, who exited Game 1 of the NBA Finals in the fourth quarter due to leg cramps, returned in a big way Sunday night for Game 2.
The Miami forward scored 35 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made an assist on a shot by center Chris Bosh that gave the Heat the lead for good in a 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Miami.
Bosh scored 18 points, while guard Dwyane Wade and forward Rashard Lewis added 14 apiece for Miami.
Guard Tony Parker led the Spurs with 21 points, and San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili scored 19.
San Antonio forward Tim Duncan produced 18 points and 15 rebounds for his 157th career playoff double-double, matching Magic Johnson’s NBA record.
The Spurs squandered a big opportunity after Miami guard Mario Chalmers was called for a flagrant-1 foul with 6:43 left in the game for elbowing Parker in the torso.
Parker, shaken up on the play, missed both free throws and then left the game. The Spurs retained possession because of the flagrant foul, but Duncan missed two subsequent free throws.
James then made a 3-point shot, giving Miami an 88-87 lead.
Parker returned and made a 3-point shot that gave the Spurs a 93-92 lead with 2:25 left.
Bosh put Miami back in front with a 3-pointer after James drove into the lane and passed him the ball.
James scored 14 points in the third quarter, including eight during a span of less than a minute. He hit his first six shots of the period.
However, when the quarter was over, the Heat had lost ground from the first half, which ended in a tie.
Parker gave the Spurs a 78-77 lead after three quarters with one of his renowned tear-drop shots in the lane.
San Antonio led by 11 early in the second quarter but dropped into a 43-43 tie at halftime.
Duncan was largely responsible for the Spurs’ early lead, hitting five of six shots inside during the first quarter.
However, the Spurs endured some critical lapses in the second quarter, and James led a surge by Miami. He scored 11 points in the quarter, including nine out of 10 for the Heat during a span of less than three minutes.
The Spurs helped the Miami comeback. On one play, San Antonio guard Marco Belinelli gave Heat guard Ray Allen the space to make an open 3-point shot. On another, Spurs center Tiago Splitter threw away a pass, starting a fast break that ended with a basket by Wade.
NOTES: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if the scrutiny the Heat received since LeBron James joined four years ago was beginning to subside. His answer: no. “I think we’ve become a little bit more numb to it,” Spoelstra said. “The first year it was uncomfortable to all of us. Now we’re used to it. We can make jokes that every story is a ‘gate-something.’” … The 110-95 victory in Game 1 was the Spurs’ eighth straight at home by 15 points or more, an NBA playoff record, according to ESPN research. … Spurs F Tim Duncan played in his 231st career playoff game Sunday — a higher total than 17 NBA franchises. … Miami outscored the Spurs 28-27 in points off turnovers in Game 1, marking the 14th time in 16 playoff games the Heat had more points than their opponents in that category.