LeBron James and Dwyane Wade proved they were not yet ready to pass the torch to the next generation by leading the Miami Heat to a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
James scored 32 points and Wade added 24 as the veteran-laden Heat rebounded from Tuesday night’s lacklustre 105-94 setback to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Oklahoma City fought back from a 13-point deficit in the last nine minutes and trailed 98-96 when Kevin Durant missed a five-footer with 10 seconds left.
James was fouled on the rebound and calmly sank two free throws with seven seconds to play to seal the victory.
“We’ve been down, we’ve withstood rallies,” James told reporters. “Good thing about it is when they scored we didn’t put our head down. That’s a great team we’re going against.”
Oklahoma City’s frenetic running game made Miami look old in Game One and the Heat responded with an 18-2 run to open the Thursday’s game and silence the 18,000 at Chesapeake Arena.
But the Thunder came roaring back with Durant scoring 16 of his 32 points in the final quarter. Durant had only six points at the half and finished the game with 12 of 22 shooting.
“It’s going to take all the way down to those zeros on that clock to get a win,” said James, who had eight rebounds, five assists and hit all 12 of his free throws.
“We did a really good job of contesting their shots. That allowed us to get rebounds. A good job by all of us defensively. It’s always good to get a win on the road.”
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had 27 points and seven assists, while James Harden came off the bench to score 21.
“He was doing it at both ends like he has been doing it all year long,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “This is going to be probably like this every single game.
“That’s the beauty of competition at this level.”
The best-of-seven series shifts to Miami for Game Three on Sunday night.