Who needs a headband when you're the greatest player alive?
In one of the most thrilling games in NBA Finals history, the Miami Heat kept their repeat chances alive on Tuesday night, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 103-100 in overtime.
LeBron James, who went sans headband for the fourth quarter and overtime, finished with his fourth career NBA Finals triple-double. James had 32 points on 11-of-26 shooting, 11 assists and 10 rebounds—most of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
As noted by Couper Moorhead of NBA.com, James' penchant for finals triple-doubles will probably go down on his bust in Springfield:
Since 1986, there have been 14 triple-doubles in the NBA Finals. LeBron James now has four of them. Double that of any other player.— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) June 19, 2013
While their counting stats were less impressive overall, the Heat also got ice-water-clutch performances from Chris Bosh and Ray Allen down the stretch.
Bosh, who had 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, got his most important of the latter statistic as time expired, stuffing a Danny Green shot in the corner that would have tied the game.
Allen went scoreless in the first three quarters before finishing with nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a game-tying three pointer with a little over five seconds left that had many calling out Jesus Shuttleworth references.
JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH SAVES!— SportsNation (@SportsNation) June 19, 2013
The Heat's win will also slightly obscure a throwback performance from Tim Duncan.
Seeing one-on-one coverage for most of the night by Miami's overmatched bigs, Duncan scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, including five San Antonio misses. Much of Duncan's work scoring-wise came in the first half, as he took advantage of coach Erik Spoelstra's decision to push Udonis Haslem—the only Heat big who can handle Duncan's size—out of the rotation.
As for the Spurs' other star, point guard Tony Parker, perhaps that's where James' most noteworthy contribution took place.
The league MVP was suction-cupped to Parker's hip throughout most of contest, fighting through a gauntlet of screens the Spurs threw his way to disrupt the guard's rhythm. Parker finished the game 6-of-23 from the field, by far his worst offensive performance of the finals thus far.
Despite James' defensive contributions arguably being more important for Miami, the conversation will center on his fourth-quarter ascent.
For much of the first three quarters, it looked like James and the Heat were satisfied to meekly bow out, a champion without much fight.
James was 3-of-12 during the first 36 minutes of Game 6, again swallowed up by Gregg Popovich's impeccable defensive game plan. He had taken only four shots in the restricted area in the first three quarters, settling for jumpers or highly contested floaters in the middle of the lane.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, something went off in the defending champion. With his team down 10 points heading into what could have been the final quarter of his season, James exploded. He scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the fourth period, including a run when he scored 13 of the team's first 22 points.
Continually attacking the Spurs defense, James bullied his way through an assemblage of defenders. Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tim Duncan—it didn't matter. James found the attack mode so many had called for throughout the series, leading the Heat to a late lead that culminated a brilliant fourth quarter.
Well, almost culminated. James and the Heat's fourth-quarter story almost had a bitter ending, as San Antonio stormed back and took a commanding lead, two LeBron turnovers being the catalyst.
But for one of the few times in this postseason, James' teammates picked him up when he needed it most. Bosh rebounded a missed three-pointer from James and kicked to Allen, who coolly sent the game to overtime.
From there, again it was all a team effort. Allen chipped in four points, Bosh two and LeBron capped off his triple-double (plus adding two more points), saving Miami's repeat efforts as the AmericanAirlines Arena hit unforeseen decibels of glee.
It's unclear what these teams have in store for Thursday's Game 7. But after Tuesday night, anything is possible.
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