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BASKETBALL > Heat rout Thunder to win second NBA title

MIAMI - Agence France-Presse

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Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) looses the ball as Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) defends during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. AP photo

Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) looses the ball as Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) defends during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. AP photo

The Miami Heat clinched their second NBA title by routing Oklahoma City 121-106 on Thursday thanks to a balanced attack and 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds from superstar LeBron James.
 
James was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals after leading the Heat to the crown, capturing his long-sought first championship and delivering on the promise he made to Heat fans when he came to Miami two years ago.
 
"I am happy I was able to make enough plays to put ourselves in a position to win this championship," said James immediately after the game.
 
"I wouldn't want to spend it with nobody else in the world besides my teammates, these fans -- oh, my God, you guys are unbelievable." Mike Miller came off the bench to sink seven-of-eight shots from three-point range and finish with 23 points while Chris Bosh added 24 points for the Heat, who won the final series 4-1 to claim their first title since 2006. "I got a lot more gray hairs but this one is so gratifying," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
 
"We knew we had the confidence in what we could do but it would be a long season and it would be a tough road. "We kept saying all year long it would be the toughest thing we'd have to do in our professional lives to get back to here and finally get those four wins," the coach added.
 
This was James's third trip to the NBA Finals, including one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his first title in his nine years in the NBA.
 
"This is a dream come true," said the 27-year-old James, who had no repeat of the painful leg cramps he suffered during Tuesday's game four.
 
"I picked up a basketball when I was nine years old. This is the hardest thing I have ever done." Miami used impressive three-point shooting, hitting 14-of-26 from beyond the arc, in front of a sold-out 20,003 crowd at American Airlines Arena.
 
The Heat also shot 58 percent from the field in the first quarter and never eased up on the Thunder, opening a huge lead with a explosive third quarter, outscoring Oklahoma City 36-22.
 
Six of their players, including all of their five starters, finished in double figures.
 
The Thunder's three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 32 points and 11 rebounds while guard Russell Westbrook had 19 points and six assists.
 
But Oklahoma were never able to recover from losing three contests in a row by close margins after opening the finals with a win at home.
 
"It always comes down to game two. We had a bad start. We fought back. Got down to the last possession," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
 
"Games three and four it came down to three or four possessions they made and we did not make. Today they were just on fire." The Heat used a balanced scoring attack right from the opening tip-off, going up by nine points, 28-19, with 1:50 left in the first quarter when Miller hit a 25-foot jumper from beyond the arc.
 
Durant made a dunk with 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter to cut the Heat lead to 31-26.
 
Miller came off the bench to go four-for-four from three-point range in limited minutes in the first half. He was zero-for-three from beyond the arc in the first four games of the series.
 
James scored seven of Miami's first 16 points in the first quarter as he helped set the tone early.
 
Heat all-star guard Dwyane Wade had to take a seat on the bench with 5:35 to play in the second quarter after picking up his third foul.
 
Miller and Mario Chalmers, who finished with seven assists, picked up the slack without Wade, who was the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals.
 
Wade finished with 20 points and eight assists.
 
The second quarter was highlighted by huge scoring runs by both teams. Miami broke the game open with a 19-4 run to take a 53-36 lead with 4:41 to play in the period.
 
Oklahoma City answered with a 13-6 run to finish the quarter. Durant banked in a jump shot with 14 seconds left to cut the Miami's lead to 59-49 at half-time.
 
Bosh scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter as Miami seized command, leading 95-71 heading into the fourth.

June/22/2012

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