So much for that fourth-quarter collapse by the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Miami answered all those questions and more with a convincing, and somewhat stunning, 103-84 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 2 on Sunday night, evening the series 1-1.
Miami completely changed the tenor of this series with a 33-5 run to end the third quarter and start the fourth to open a 91-67 lead and turn the final 7 1/2 minutes into garbage time.
“I was thinking of everybody watching the game on TV or people in the building,” Heat guard Ray Allen said. “To be able to bring people to their feet when we’re playing in that fashion, it’s great to be a part of.”
The Finals now shift to San Antonio for the next three games beginning Tuesday night.
Mario Chalmers led a balanced Heat attack with 19 points. LeBron James overcame a slow start — he missed 10 of his first 13 shots — to finish with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Miami’s run started with San Antonio leading 62-61. By the time it ended, 10 minutes later, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich already emptied his bench.
“It was the whole team just killing us,” San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said.
The Spurs, whose seven-game postseason winning streak ended, had 17 turnovers (six during Miami’s run) after setting a Finals record for the fewest turnovers in a game with four in Thursday night’s Game 1. San Antonio shot 2-of-10 during Miami’s decisive run.
“You need to shoot well and you need to take care of the basketball, and if you turn it over like we did tonight and you don’t shoot well, it’s a bad combination,” Popovich said.
The signature play of the game came on the defensive end when James met 6-foot-11 Tiago Splitter at the rim to block his dunk attempt.
“I hadn’t done much offensively, so I just tried to change the game defensively,” James said.
With James struggling, Miami received key contributions from reserves Allen (13 points) and Mike Miller (nine), who combined for six 3-pointers on eight tries, and Chris Andersen, who scored nine points and hit all three of his shots.
“The wealth was spread,” Allen said. “Everyone was involved. We moved that ball around. Wherever it landed, somebody got a good shot.”
Chalmers, Miller and Allen combined for 12 of Miami’s final 14 points of the third quarter, the stretch in which Miami took control.
“LeBron couldn’t get into a rhythm early on and other guys stepped up,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Mario was able to make some plays. Ray and Mike both found open gaps for the shooting. Dwyane (Wade) and (Chris Bosh) were able to make plays in the first half.”
Wade had 10 points, all in the first half, and Bosh finished with 12 on 6-of-10 shooting. Bosh added 10 rebounds.
The series saw its first double-digit lead when Chalmers threw in a shot falling away and was fouled by Kawhi Leonard. The free throw gave the Heat a 75-65 lead, which held to the end of the quarter.
That offense was more than enough to offset Danny Green’s perfect game from the field. Green made all six of his shots, including five 3-pointers, for a team-high 17 points.
The difference from Game 1 was the Spurs received just 22 points from Tony Parker (13) and Tim Duncan (9) on Sunday. The two combined to shoot 8-for-27.
Parker also had five turnovers. He had none in more than 39 minutes of Game 1.
“They were really aggressive,” Parker said. “You have to give a lot of credit to their defense. They played great defense. They were very aggressive on the pick-and-rolls. (We) just have to take care of the basketball better.”
The Heat’s victory means Miami needs to win just one of the three games in San Antonio to ensure the series returns to Miami.
“Our goal was to get two, but they got the one tonight,” Spurs center Tim Duncan said. “We get to go home. We have three at home, but if we play like we did tonight it’s not going to matter.”