LeBron James played like a man on a mission on Sunday, barreling his way to the rim, fighting for rebounds and getting to the foul line as the Miami Heat seized the lead in the NBA Finals with a 91-85 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James was backed by fellow All-Star Dwyane Wade who finished with 25 points and seven assists .
The victory gave the Heat a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven championship series with two more games in Miami
and a chance to claim the title in front of their home fans.
“I’m just trying to make plays,” said James, who pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
National Basketball Association MVP James said he was determined to make up for last year’s six-game loss in the
Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
“Last year, I didn’t make enough game-changing plays, and that’s what I kind of pride myself on,” he said.
“I didn’t do that last year in the Finals.
“I’m just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key
moments and be there for my teammates.”
The Thunder missed nine-of-24 free throws, while the aggressive Heat, attacked the rim relentlessly and were rewarded with 35 free throws that they turned into 31 points.
“We’re missing,” Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant told reporters.
“We’ve just got to be focused and disciplined and knock them down.”
“Every day we remind ourselves, we think of that pain that we experienced last year”
Durant led the Thunder with 25 points, but only took four free throws, making half of them.
“Last game, we missed seven and lost by four (points),” lamented three-time NBA scoring champion Durant.
“Tonight, we missed nine, lost by six. Just got to be disciplined.”
Chris Bosh, who combined with James and Wade to propel the Heat to victory in the last quarter of the gruelling
battle, said the team was using last season’s failure to drive them.
“Every day we remind ourselves, we think of that pain that we experienced last year,” said Bosh.
Wade said the Heat approached each game as a do-or-die encounter.
“Nothing is promised. You can’t always say we have next year, because you never know what can happen,” Wade said.
“Last year, we experienced enough as a unit to deal with what came at us, and it showed.”