by Kent Sterling
That was a hell of a basketball game that the Miami Heat won 103-100 in overtime.
The game belonged to the Spurs as they took a 13 point lead in the third. Then it belonged to the Heat as they asserted themselves in the fourth quarter to take a three-point lead with under two-minutes left in regulation. Finally, it belonged to the Spurs as they led by five after a Manu Ginobili free throw with :28 left. Wait, no, the Heat somehow found a way again to claw back to force overtime.
And then, the Heat finished the job everyone expected them to complete tonight, as they forced a seventh game for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
There were heroes all over the floor, and there were goats too. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a critical substitution that might have been the play that made the most sense, but cost the Spurs two potential defensive rebounds that led directly to the two three pointers the Heat needed to tie the game.
Hard to criticize Popovich for subbing out Tim Duncan for Boris Diaw as the Heat looked for three pointers while down five and then down three. Both initial 26-foot three attempts by LeBron James missed, but were rebounded by the Heat. James hit one of the follow-ups and Ray Allen knocked down the other to tie the game.
- Mario Chalmers kept the Heat in the game with his 14 first half points.
- LeBron James scored 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter.
- Tim Duncan scored 30 points in the first 31:29 minutes of the game.
- Duncan’s productive +/- score differential while on the floor of +16.
- The post I wrote when I thought the Spurs were going to win.
- Kawhi Leonard’s 22 points, 11 boards, and +/- of +11 made it clear why Popovich was motivated to swap George Hill for his draft rights.
- The Spurs, minus Tony Parker’s 6-of-23 (see the bad) shot a righteous 31-of-62 from the field.
- Mike Miller might look like an industrial league regular, but he was very effective during his 30 minutes, scoring eight with seven rebounds. His +/- of +15 led the Heat
- Chris Bosh’s help defense that led to two key blocks down the stretch.
- Tiago Splitter’s only two buckets early in the fourth quarter that kept the Spurs ahead while Tony Parker and Tim Duncan rested.
- Duncan scored zero points over the last 21:31.
- James tallied only 14 points through the first three quarters.
- Bosh being routinely abused by Tim Duncan during his nearly flawless first half.
- Everything Splitter did minus the two baskets referenced in the Good section.
- Parker had a tough night from the field while being well-defended by a variety of Heat players, making only 6-of-23.
- James without his head band. The receding headline made him look 58.
- Ginobili’s eight turnovers.
- Ginobili’s nightmarish +/- score of -21.
- The decision by referees to review the good three by Allen that tied the game with five seconds left. That removed the drama of a finish uninterrupted by a timeout. I know that it’s good to make sure on a key play like that, but did anyone have a doubt that Allen’s feet were behind the line.
- The officiating as a whole in the NBA is almost impossible to evaluate as some heavy contact is not a foul while other light contact is. How fans are supposed to have any idea at all whether the games are being refereed accurately is anyone’s guess. I have no idea myself.
Now, we rest up for another late night of hoops. Can’t wait.