LeBron James leads Heat past Spurs with help from Chris Bosh, Ray Allen

The San Antonio Spurs failed to win the championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, blowing a 13-point lead and losing 103-100 in overtime to the Miami Heat. The two teams will now play one more game on Thursday to decide the series after Tuesday night’s dramatic finish:

The Spurs and Heat finally played a game that matched the quality of the two championship-tested teams. They traded highlight plays as if they were determined not to lose, while also supplying some ghastly gaffes. But the intensity was unlike any of the previous games, as San Antonio wanted to go home with a championship trophy and Miami was determined not have another team from Texas celebrate a title on its home court. . .

“It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” LeBron James said afterward. “The ups and downs, the roller coaster, the emotions, good and bad throughout the whole game. To be a part of something like this is something you would never be able to recreate once you’re done playing the game. And I’m happy about the way we dug down and was able to get a win.”

James had a triple double with a game-high 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, overcoming a rough start to score 16 fourth-quarter points and help his team rally from a 13-point second-half deficit. When the Heat needed to make plays, James received some timely assistance from some unusual sources.

With the Heat trailing by three near the end of regulation, Bosh rebounded a miss by James and [Ray] Allen retreated to the corner, backpedaling until he knocked down a three-pointer over Tony Parker to tie the game at 95 with 5.2 seconds remaining. Then, after Allen forced Spurs guard Manu Ginobili into a late turnover and made two free throws, [Chris] Bosh ended the game by tracking down Green and slapping the ball down in front of the Spurs’ bench.

Michael Lee

James’s performance will temporarily silence his critics, writes columnist Jason Reid:

No matter how much James does — his list of accomplishments is long for someone who’s only 28 — many hoops fans and media members view him as an all-time underachiever. All he did Tuesday was lead a furious fourth-quarter rally and finished with his second triple-double of the Finals. . .

What James did best, however, was overcome his own failings — late turnovers in regulation. His three-pointer with 20 seconds to play pulled the Heat within two. Then the ageless Ray Allen made a three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left, setting the stage for overtime and Miami, somehow, wasn’t finished. James helped make sure of it.

“We needed everything that we had and more,” James said. “To come out with a win like that, it makes it even greater when you’re able to will everything you have as individuals.”

Most superstar athletes are graded on their overall body of work. James is judged minute by minute. And nothing he did yesterday matters — unless yesterday was bad for James. These Finals are a great example of the wrongheaded James-has-failed-again thinking.

Jason Reid

Notably, James ended the game without his headband:

When he lost the headband Tuesday night, the Miami Heat’s fortunes turned around.

James lost his signature accessory with just over 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter, got a dunk on that very play and never replaced the headband the rest of the way. . .

When a replacement headband was flipped onto the court from the Heat bench, it remained in the hands of someone who was underneath the basket. James — who has stopped mid-play at times in his Heat tenure to pick up and reapply a headband after it’s gotten knocked askew — had much bigger things on his mind.

After the headband came off, James made 6 of 12 shots, scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out three assists. And when it was over, he simply looked exhausted.

Associated Press

By that time, many of the Heat’s supporters in Miami had already given up on their team and left the stadium. The box score from the game is available here. Read past coverage of this series here.

The Post Sports Live crew discusses how many more NBA championships LeBron James has to win to be considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. (Jayne Orenstein/Post Sports Live)
Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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