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Heat’s Big Three Ride Again

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat head back home Friday after a gritty performance in Game 2 saw the team even the series at one game apiece. It was another solid game from NBA MVP LeBron James and another great game from the unlikeliest of heroes, Shane Battier.

The Big Three of the Heat combined to score 72 points in Game 2 without making a single 3-point shot in the game. LeBron kept the pressure on the Thunder throughout the game by consistently getting to the basket and forcing the Thunder to either foul or give up the easy basket.

LeBron finished the game with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. His 12-12 free throw performance only accentuated the phenomenal season he has put together with the Heat. But it was the contributions from Battier, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade that pushed the Heat over the top.

Battier was 6-8 from the field, including 5-7 from behind the 3-point line. He finished the game with 17 big points to help key big runs for the Heat, while playing more than 40 minutes. Not to be outdone, Bosh scored 16 points, but was HUGE on the glass.

Bosh pulled down 15 total rebounds, including 7 offensive boards, in his first return to the starting lineup since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.

Wade was roundly criticized for not being aggressive enough in Game 1 and responded in a big way. Wade finished the game 10-20 from the field for 24 points, with 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Plus, Wade was able to get some more rest in the game thanks to others picking up the scoring load.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra dug a little deeper into his bench in Game 2. He played both James Jones and rookie Norris Cole for a combined 19+ minutes. Cole was brought in at times because Mario Chalmers was largely ineffective from the offensive end. Chalmers finished with just 3 points in the game.

But Chalmers’ performance was about the only offensive performance you could fault.

Defensively, the Heat played with a much bigger fire that helped them hold the Thunder to just 43 percent shooting for the game. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook struggled the most shooting just 39 percent from the field. He scored 27 points, but needed 26 shots to get those points.

The Thunder got a much better performance from James Harden in Game 2, as he went for 21 big points that kept the Thunder from getting blown out in the first half after Miami opened the game with an 18-2 run.

After the initial burst, Oklahoma City closed the gap to two late in the fourth quarter, but as he did throughout the game, LeBron hit big shots and free throws to stop any rally in its tracks.

The series now comes to Miami for three straight games (Games 3-5). Miami will need at least two wins if it wants to stay in command in the series. Its possible Miami could win the championship on its home court, but that would require the Heat to sweep three straight games from OKC.