LeBron brings the 'Thunder' in Game 2
June, 15, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty ImagesLeBron James scored an NBA Finals career-high 32 points in Game 2.
After two previous NBA Finals appearances without a ring, LeBron found his Miami Heat down 1-0 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Coming into the 2012 NBA Finals, LeBron had never scored more than 25 points in 10 previous NBA Finals games. Nobody had more turnovers per game in their NBA Finals career than LeBron. He had averaged 10 fewer points per game in the NBA Finals than all other playoff rounds.
But that has changed.
LeBron scored 32 points in the Heat’s 100-96 Game 2 victory. He has had at least 30 points in both games, setting new NBA Finals career highs in each game.
LeBron had 30 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, so it’s not like he didn’t produce. What was the difference in Game 2?
For one, his right-hand man, Dwyane Wade, came to play. After shooting less than 50 percent in six straight playoff games for the first time in his career, Wade shot 50 percent in Game 2. He was 7-for-19 from the field in Game 1 but a more efficient 10-20 in Game 2.
Despite a furious comeback by the Thunder, James and Wade ensured a Heat victory down the stretch.
James made a 15-foot bank shot with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter to give the Heat a 96-91 lead. Then, with seven seconds remaining and the Heat leading 98-96, LeBron hit two clutch free throws to seal the deal.
Entering Game 2, LeBron was 1-for-3 this postseason on free throws in the final minute of the fourth quarter and overtime in one-possession games. He was 9-for-14 during the 2011-12 regular season and 13-for-18 in his postseason career entering Game 2.
But LeBron, a 74 percent career postseason free-throw shooter entering Game 2, drained two clutch free throws to seal the deal. He was 12-for-12 from the line for the game, marking just the second time in his postseason career he has made at least 12 free throws without a miss.
It was the first time LeBron made two free throws in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime in a one-possession playoff game since May 26, 2009 against the Orlando Magic.
Wade chipped in during crunch time as well. He made a turnaround jumper to put the Heat up 94-87 with 2:58 left and then assisted on a Chris Bosh dunk to put the Heat ahead by seven once again with 53 seconds remaining.
All of this was despite another special performance from Kevin Durant, who scored 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Durant is the only player since the ABA-NBA merger (1976-77) with at least 14 fourth-quarter points in consecutive NBA Finals games (he had 17 in Game 1). Nobody since the merger has had more combined fourth-quarter points in their first two career NBA Finals games than Durant.
According to Elias, Durant’s combined 68 points in Games 1 and 2 are the third-most in NBA history by a player in their first two career NBA Finals games. The only players with more are Allen Iverson (71 in 2001) and Michael Jordan (69 in 1991).
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.