MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat needed everything they could get out of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night.
They got that and more as Wade and James combined for 54 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists and the team held off a late rally from the Thunder and took at 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
Game 3, before a sold-out AmericanAirlines Arena, was rocking and rolling from the opening tip.
Both teams hit the floor looking to take a 2-1 advantage in the Finals. The reason for that is simple. Out of the 34 NBA Finals to be tied after 1-1 after the first two games, the team winning Game 3 has gone on to win 29 times.
As the opening quarter got underway, Miami set the tone with a thunderous dunk from Chris Bosh less than a minute into the game. Miami would go on to open up a 10-4 early lead before Oklahoma City took a timeout.
Coming out of that timeout, the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook scored easily against the Heat, but from there both teams turned on the defensive pressure.
Miami made a living out of running the baseline and getting pinpoint passes for easy buckets down low. The Thunder worked the ball around the court well early, but Miami kept the foot on the gas throughout the quarter.
Led by superstar LeBron Jame’s 10 first-quarter points, the Heat finished off the first quarter with a six point lead over Oklahoma City.
LeBron took a seat in the second quarter with Miami up 6 point lead. LeBron sat for nearly 10 minutes of real time, which was crucial for the Heat to give him some rest in the series. LeBron has logged heavy minutes for the Heat throughout the playoffs.
LeBron re-entered the game with a little less than eight minutes to go until halftime and immediately got to the free throw line to give the Heat a short-lived 31-29 lead. OKC responded quickly with a turnaround jumper from Kevin Durant.
After a steal from Mario Chalmers, LeBron hit Dwyane Wade on a nice breakaway fro an easy two-point layup to give the Heat a 33-31 lead with 6:10 to go in the quarter.
The Heat’s shooting struggles were readily evident to anyone watching the two quarters. Through 16 minutes of action in the first half, the Heat managed to score just two points outside of the painted area.
Oklahoma City’s Durant pushed the Thunder ahead 39-38 with three minutes to go in the half by hitting a three-pointer with LeBron flasing in front of him.
After an Oklahoma City basket, Shane Battier finally hit a shot from outside when he drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 41. LeBron then took Durant to the basket on a drive and the MVP got the hoop, the harm, and nailed his free throw to give a quick 44-43 lead.
After another Battier three-pointer, the crowd was electrified, only to be silenced by a three-pointer from the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.
As both teams headed to the locker-room for half-time, the Heat were clinging to a 47-46 lead.
The Miami Heat should have been blowing the Thunder off the floor and would have been had they not missed nearly every jump shot they took outside the painted area of the court.
Things didn’t start well for the Heat in the third quarter as LeBron James put up a jump shot that hit nothing but air. Bosh followed that shot up with an open shot that rimmed out and the Heat picked up where they left off in the first half with shooting woes.
The Heat were ice cold from the field and were only getting points from the free throw line in the third quarter. The Big Three looked gassed and winded as no shot was falling for anyone in white. Still, the Heat were down by just one four minutes through the quarter.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra took a time out with eight minutes to go in the third quarter, because the Heat had fallen behind 56-51 and the team couldn’t buy a basket.
Oklahoma City quickly switched it’s defense to leave the Heat players open on the outside, daring them to shoot. The Thunder then clogged the lane down low and dared Miami to hit open shots before they’d consider extending their defense.
Through seven minutes of play in the third quarter, Miami still had not hit a jump shot. Miami’s only score from the field came on a Wade dunk. Outside of that bucket, it was ice cold for the Heat. LeBron finally hit a jump shot with roughly four minutes to go in the quarter.
The craziest part of the third quarter was the Thunder couldn’t put the Heat away. After Shane Battier was fouled on a three-point shot, he hit the three free throws to bring the score to 65-59.
LeBron hit a crucial open three-pointer with less than a minute to go to put the Heat back ahead 69-67 which is where the quarter ended.
For the Heat, they couldn’t have played offense any worse in the third quarter, yet they still managed to eek out the two-point lead.
The Heat got the fourth-quarter scoring started with a nice entry pass from Wade to a slashing Udonis Haslem for an easy dunk. That was followed-up by a James Jones 3-pointer and a big-time block of a Derek Fisher jumpshot by Udonis Haslem.
The Thunder responded quickly with an alley-oop by Kevin Durant to bring the game to 74-73.
As the quarter wore on, both teams went even colder from the field and the man known as “Slash” put the Heat up 81-77 on a drive to the basket where he was fouled by Kendrick Perkins of the Thunder.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, two possessions later, LeBron took the ball to the basket on a fast break and managed to hit the basket while also getting Kevin Durant to commit his fifth foul of the game.
The Thunder took a time out with 3:44 left in the fourth quarter with the Heat up 84-77. LeBron and Wade had put up 49 points heading into the final minutes of the game.
LeBron James then drove to the basket with 2:15 to go in the game and blew past the entire Thunder defense on his way to a contested layup to make the score 86-79.
But before anyone could make plans to leave the arena, the Thunder quickly pulled back within one point after turnovers by Dwyane Wade led to quick Thunder points. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra took a timeout with 90 second to go in the game to prepare for a wild ride.
Chris Bosh was fouled after a perfect entry pass from LeBron James set him up just feet from the basket. Bosh hit both shots for the Heat to make the lead 88-85.
After Westbrook missed a wide-open three-point shot, LeBron was sent to the free throw line with a chance to ice the game. He missed the front-end of a 1-in-1 but hit the second one to stretch the lead to four points, 89-85.
Wade was fouled after a bad Thunder turnover and hit both free throws to extend the lead to 91-85. The Thunder’s Westbrook threw up a desperation three-point shot, but it missed and LeBron brought down the rebound to seal the Heat’s victory.
With the victory, the Heat opened up a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals. The Heat now stand just two victories away from an NBA Championship.
Game 4 is Tuesday night starting at 9 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena.