Coming off of a tough loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, the Miami Heat needed its All-Star cast to perform at their expected levels to steal Game Two.
The Big Three did just that on Thursday night as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- back in the starting lineup for the first time since his abdomen strain -- all submitted stellar performances on the way to a Miami victory in Oklahoma City, 100-96.
James reflected on how tight the game was down the stretch in his post-game press conference.
We had played too well in the first 36 minutes to let this one slip away from us, James said.
After dominating for most of the game following an 18-2 run from the opening tip, the Heat saw an 11-point fourth quarter lead shrink to as little as four thanks to an amazing quarter by 2012 scoring champion Kevin Durant.
Durant scored 16 points on five-for-eight shooting in the quarter after head coach Scott Brooks elected to keep him in the game following his fifth foul, only 90 seconds into the quarter. The three-time scoring champ willed his team back into the game, but was held off by James, the scoring leader in this year's playoffs.
James has now scored 30 points in five straight games, and is averaging 31 per game during this playoff run. He was able to net two clutch free throws with seven seconds left to make it a two possession game, he tied Durant with a Finals-career-high 32 points and was perfect from the charity stripe on 12 attempts.
His final free throws came after a controversial no-call on a Durant missed shot. Replays showed heavy contact from James on Durant, but the referees kept the whistles at bay and James was intentionally fouled after he corralled the rebound.
A different call may have turned the game, but the Heat made sure to control the game from start to finish and never trailed at any point during the game.
Bosh's resurgence and Shane Battier's continued offensive production were big factors in this game. Bosh had a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds to go along with two blocks as he finally took his game inside after starting at center. Battier scored 17 points for the second straight game and went 6-8 from the floor with five three-pointers.
The Heat will now travel home for three straight games, and may not even have to return to Oklahoma City if able to win all of them. The Thunder will have to take at least one game in Miami to stay in this series.