Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat had no more mulligans left to play Tuesday night when Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals tipped off. It was either win, or the team was on a one-way trip to an early summer vacation.
The Heat fought back from a double-digit lead and forced overtime as Miami held the Spurs off just enough to get a 103-100 victory, forcing a Game 7 Thursday night.
The Heat, down 3-2, needed a major bounceback game defensively and stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had to finish when they got to the rim.
From the opening tip, the Heat started out attacking on the offensive end. Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers hit a couple of early three-point shots and Wade and James were moving the ball around the court well.
But the San Antonio Spurs would not lay down and between Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan set a breakneck pace early in the game to keep the Heat from setting its half-court defense.
Early in the first quarter, Leonard set the pace for the Spurs when he threw down a huge dunk right in the face of Mike Miller who continued to look confused on each defensive set, especially on who to cover on a pick-and-roll.
It’s not a surprise Miller had trouble as he rode the bench for much of the latter half of the season and was obviously rusty since he was reinserted into the starting lineup.
Miami had three early turnovers and each time they turned it over, the Spurs immediately pushed the ball down the court and jumped out to 20-16 after seven minutes of play.
The Heat traded baskets with San Antonio before the Heat ran off an 8-0 run to take a 27-24 lead with under a minute to go in the first quarter.
The Spurs got a questionable blocking call on Shane Battier that allowed Tiago Splitter to hit one of two free throws to narrow the lead to 27-25 which is how the quarter ended.
Spurs power forward Tim Duncan and forward Kawhi Leonard were the only offense from San Antonio as they combined to score 20 points in the first quarter with Duncan not missing a shot (6-6).
As the second quarter got underway, LeBron took a seat on the bench and behind another three-pointer from Battier and a Euro-step from Wade, the Heat opened up a four-point lead after 14 minutes of the game.
The surprise of the early part of the game was Mario Chalmers who had 10 points in the first quarter and kept it coming in the second quarter by driving to the basket and drawing Splitter’s second early foul. Chalmers extended the Heat’s lead to six 34-28 after three minutes of the second quarter.
Tim Duncan continued his hot shooting throughout the second quarter as he started 8-8 in the game and had 16 points to keep the Spurs in the game.
Duncan’s scoring helped San Antonio close the Heat lead to just three, 40-37 and just as the Heat had no answer for Danny Green in the past games, Miami had no defender capable of defending Duncan early on.
Duncan hit a pair of free throws to get the Spurs within two points at 44-42 with three minutes to go in the game. Duncan had 21 points in the first half when a television timeout hit with just under three minutes.
One thing that was obvious early on was just how much the Spurs had gotten into the head of LeBron as whenever he got the ball he spent too much time thinking about what to do instead of just reacting like he did during the regular season.
The Spurs finally regained the lead with a Duncan dunk with just more than a minute to go in the half, 46-44.
The Heat went cold to end the half and allowed the Spurs to get another run going and keep the Heat down and Kawhi Leonard put the punctuation on a 16-4 run to close out the quarter and kill the crowd’s energy.
At halftime, Duncan had 25 points and eight rebounds and was unstoppable. Leonard also contributed double-figures in the first half and San Antonio led 50-44.
Chalmers led the Heat with 14 points followed by LeBron with nine points and Wade with eight points.
The Spurs shot 58 percent from the field, mainly due to Duncan’s 11-13 shooting in the half. Miami shot just 42 percent from the field, but 50 percent from behind the three-point line.
With the teams in the locker room, the Heat’s chances of pushing the series to a Game 7 were beginning to look eerily similar to 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks, not good.
The surprise at the start of the second half was Dwyane Wade was not on the court when the third quarter began. Wade stayed in the locker room an extra amount of time and didn’t check in until two minutes had passed in the third quarter.
Both teams would go cold in the early part of the quarter and the Spurs maintained a 57-53 lead with under seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
Mike Miller hit a driving layup to close the Spurs lead to just one point, 57-56 with a little more than six minutes to go in the third quarter.
But just like every other game, the Spurs came right back and behind a Tony Parker jump shot and free throw, extended the lead back up to four.
LeBron would go on to miss another layup and with the Heat in the penalty, Boris Diaw headed to the free throw line to give the Spurs a 62-56 lead with five minutes to go in the quarter.
It was almost as if the Heat was Charlie Brown and the Spurs were Lucy letting Miami expend a ton of energy to get right back into the game and just before the Heat can take the lead, the Spurs pull the football away and Miami lands on its head again.
LeBron was especially struggling in the game as he was 3-10 after 31 minutes of the game.
The Spurs completed an 11-0 run with four minutes to go in the quarter to extend the lead to 12 points and things looked like they were quickly getting out of hand for the Heat.
Combined with the run to end the first half, the Spurs’ two runs had outscored the mighty Heat 27-4.
San Antonio continued to pour it on extending the lead to 71-58 with less than four minutes to go in the quarter. The crowd tried to rally the team but with Wade and Bosh going cold and LeBron looking disinterested on the offensive end.
The Heat continued to fall apart as the quarter went on as LeBron and Wade began to complain more about not getting calls from the referees.
On one possession late in the quarter, Wade missed a driving layup and when he didn’t get the foul call, sat back and didn’t get back on defense which led to an easy San Antonio bucket by guard Gary Neal.
At the end of the third quarter, the Heat’s season and title hopes were teetering on disaster with San Antonio leading 75-65.
The Heat came out firing to start the fourth quarter and quickly closed the lead to 77-73 and the crowd was on eggshells hoping the Heat had one last run in them and the Spurs couldn’t keep smacking the Heat back.
LeBron lost his headband with a little more than eight minutes to go in the game and was in full-fledged beast mode to help close the lead to just 82-79 after a quick left-handed hook shot.
LeBron started out the fourth quarter and continued to play like a man possessed starting out the quarter on a 10-7 run versus the entire Spurs team.
With less than six minutes to go in the game, behind LeBron’s inspired play, Miami lead the Spurs 84-82.
The clock continued to tick down and LeBron continued to keep the Heat on his shoulders and elevated the team to an 87-82 lead with just 2:57 left in the game.
As the clock wound down, the Heat couldn’t close out on two possessions and Tony Parker hit a three-point shot that pulled the Spurs even with the Heat at 89.
Parker then followed a Mario Chalmers turnover with a teardrop jumpshot in the lane to give the Spurs a 91-89 lead as the clock went under a minute to go in the game.
Then an inexplicable turnover by LeBron in the lane gave the Spurs a fast break and an easy pair of free throws from Manu Ginobli capped a 7-0 run by the Spurs to give them a four-point lead.
Another wild shot by LeBron and the Spurs got another fast break and Ginobli went back to the line again for free throws to push the game to a five point lead, 94-89.
LeBron would miss another three-point shot and then on the same possession hit a three-point shot to get the lead to 94-92 with 20.1 seconds to go in the game.
After the Spurs got one of two free throws from Kawhi Leonard, LeBron tried another three point shot and missed, but Chris Bosh grabbed a huge offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Ray Allen who hit a three-point shot to tie the game at 92 with 5.2 seconds to go in the game.
The Spurs’ Parker tried a running layup at the end of regulation, but he couldn’t hit it and the game was sent into overtime.
After a Tim Duncan bucket started the scoring in overtime, LeBron found Bosh on a long pass and he hit a layup to tie the score at 97.
The Spurs would extend the lead to 100-99 but Tony Parker missed a long three-point shot and Miami pushed the ball back and LeBron hit a leaning jump shot to give the Heat a one point lead.
The Heat then held the Spurs to a 24-second shot clock violation and the turnover gave the Heat a chance to open a bigger lead over San Antonio.
But James couldn’t get a shot to go and the Spurs took the rebound and pushed the ball back into their half of the court before taking a timeout with 55.4 seconds left in overtime.
After the Spurs turned the ball over, LeBron tried to power to the basket, but Danny Green, who had been quiet offensively throughout the night made a huge defensive play to knock the ball off James and the Spurs took possession of the ball with 40.5 seconds left in the game.
Then, on a defensive switch on a pick and roll with Tony Parker, Bosh came out and blocked enough of the shot to get the ball into LeBron’s hands and the Spurs quickly fouled.
Dwyane Wade missed a shot and Manu Ginobli pushed the ball up the court and lost the ball on a wild running shot and Allen ended up with the ball and going to the free throw line.
Allen hit both of his free throws and gave the Heat a 103-100 lead with 1.9 seconds to go in the game.
The Spurs called a timeout and set up a screen for Danny Green to shoot a three-pointer, but Bosh once again came through with a blocked shot to seal the victory.
LeBron finished the game with a triple-double with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Mario Chalmers was second on the team in scoring with 20 points in the game.
The Spurs were led by Duncan’s 30 points and Leonard’s 22.
Game 7 will be held at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night with a tip time just after 9 p.m.