A trip back to a familiar place for LeBron James is the setting for Memorable Game #2 on our list. The Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers met on March 20 for yet another homecoming for the reigning MVP, LeBron James.
The Heat wouldn’t let a water leak stop them from moving towards extending their season long 23-game winning streak. It delayed the game from starting on time and in the process cooled off the Heat as they started the game off sluggish especially James. He was 2 for 5 with just six points in the first half.
Cleveland used that 35-minute delay to get revived and focused on winning this game and ending Miami’s streak. The Cavaliers got a lot of high percentage baskets against the Heat. Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson were critical to the Cavs’ attack. Thompson reached double figures in the first quarter, getting to the basket with ease while Gee had a rim-rattling slam much to the delight of the Cleveland faithful.
It went from bad to worse in the second quarter as the Cavs started to hit every shot they attempted. They were aggressive in attacking the Heat and it was paying off. Miami had no sense of urgency and were allowing Cleveland to pounce on them. A 22-3 run to end the first half put the Cavs up by 21 points.
A mental and physical break helped the Heat flip the switch which they did so often during the season.
Despite the lead increasing to 27 points after Cavs center Tyler Zeller scored and got fouled on the play making the score 67-40.
Then, it was total domination from there for the Heat.
A 27 point lead dwindled down to 20 after Dwyane Wade hit Shane Battier for a 3-pointer. Battier connected on back to back clutch shots from three-point range off assists from Chris Bosh to make it a 12-point game. Then, James hit a driving layup and followed that up by finding Ray Allen on the wing for a 3-pointer to cut the Cavs lead down to 74-68, its lowest since the second quarter. Daniel Gibson made it 77-78 to get some life back into the crowd after an abysmal performance in the third quarter.
An 8-0 run by James helped tie the game at 77 just minutes into the final quarter. He hit a 3-pointer and after missing an alley-oop attempt, he put back the miss and moments later drained a shot from long distance.
Sure the Heat completed the comeback but it wasn’t going to be handed to them. James wasn’t going to let the team have a breakdown as he hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Heat a 80-79 lead with 9:40 left. Next, he found Allen at the top of the key to put the Heat by four points. Wade who was quiet for much of the game scored two of his 11 points on a jumper that gave the Heat its largest lead of the second half at 93-86.
The Cavs had a little more fight in them as Alonzo Gee got a slam dunk to bring them within three. Thompson hit a pair at the line and it was a 96-95 Heat lead. After a controversial call, Miami was awarded the ball and James was fouled on the inbound pass. He calmly hit both free throws to finish off his triple double stat line. It set the stage for a final possession for Cleveland to tie the game.
Veteran C.J. Miles had the game in his hands but was challenged by the superior defense of Battier, missing the shot from the left wing. James would leave Cleveland victorious once again as the Heat have defeated the Cavs in nine of the last 10 meetings.
The Heat had escaped yet another close game and could live to talk about win No. 24 in their historic winning streak.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the Most Memorable Game of Season for the Miami Heat.
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