2. Around The Association
Recap | Box score
MVP: LeBron James was slow to start, going 3-for-12 in the first three quarters. However, he exploded in the fourth, scoring 16 points sans his trademark headband. He finished with 32 points, 10 boards and 11 assists, becoming the first since Charles Barkley in '93 to put up a 30-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist game in the Finals.
X factor: Chris Bosh had only 10 points in this game, but he had a clutch offensive rebound at the end of the fourth and two key blocks in overtime to seal it for the Heat, including the rejection of a Danny Green 3-point attempt with one second left in OT.
Defining moment: With seven seconds left in the fourth, it looked over. LeBron had missed a 3-pointer, but Bosh came down with the aforementioned clutch rebound. He then kicked the ball out to Ray Allen in the corner for the 3 to tie the game with five seconds left, preventing the Spurs from claiming their fifth NBA title, for now.
A Lot On The Line For LeBron
SAN ANTONIO -- It's easier when things are obvious. When he is either wonderful or woeful or the game turns on a play he did or did not make.
When what LeBron James does really is the story of why the Miami Heat won or lost.
In the Heat's 2011 Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, James' fourth-quarter failings stuck out. Last season, when the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, his growth as a clutch performer became the lasting memory of the series.
But this year, there's nothing you can really point to. James has been great in some games, lethargic in others, and overall pretty good.
He had 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals in the Heat's 114-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 on Sunday evening. He also shot just 8-for-22 from the field after the Spurs switched Boris Diaw, of all people, onto him.
LeBron And Lefty: Lessons In Legacy
Before LeBron James even plays this latest career-defining game, it's clear that he has lost. More specifically, he has lost the right to lose.
Some athletes retain that right. It was never more evident than in the wake of this year's U.S. Open, when Phil Mickelson came up short once again in a major he has never won. Mickelson started the final day with the lead, but, by the time he reached the 18th hole, he needed a birdie to force a playoff with Justin Rose. He got a bogey.
It might not be fair to call Mickelson's final round "choking" when all day long the course was dispensing birdies as if they were winning lottery tickets. But it certainly wasn't clutch. And he hasn't been universally condemned for it.
Mickelson has won four of golf's major events, and it doesn't feel like enough the way LeBron's sole championship doesn't feel like enough. LeBron might make a billion dollars in salary and endorsements by the time he's done, but it's clear he hasn't banked enough good will. That's the difference between Mickelson and LeBron. Perhaps that's the lesson, as well.
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Could Smugness Doom The Heat?
SAN ANTONIO -- The Miami Heat have respectful things to say about the San Antonio Spurs, at least on the surface. Before the series, LeBron James praised the Spurs' willingness to move the ball, while Dwyane Wade cited their "basketball IQ" and Erik Spoelstra paid homage to the organizational culture in San Antonio.
But between the lines in these Finals, the Heat have been dismissive of the Spurs -- and it's been baffling. Miami often treats San Antonio like an opponent that doesn't warrant its full attention or concentration. The Heat stagger their energy, drift through possessions on both ends of the floor and ignore essential assignments and tasks.
If they fall behind enough, as they did in the second quarter in Game 5 Sunday night, the Heat will launch some smart surgical attacks on the Spurs' interior defense. But there are long stretches when the Heat play as if they can subsist on a steady diet of run-outs, hero-ball and early jumpers.