MIAMI (AP) — Back with a blowout, and no, the Miami Heat didn’t need LeBron James to do more.
Not when Mario Chalmers and everyone else did everything right.
Chalmers led the charge and James broke out to finish it with a flurry as the Heat used a 33-5 run to blow away the San Antonio Spurs in a 103-84 victory Sunday night that evened the NBA Finals at one game apiece.
James missed 10 of his first 13 shots and the Heat trailed by a point late in the third quarter before unleashing the lethal brand of basketball that led them to a franchise-record 66 wins this season.
Chalmers finished with 19 points, and James had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while shooting only 7 of 17 from the field.
The Heat made 10 of 19 3-pointers and got 13 points from Ray Allen, and 12 points and 10 rebounds from the previously slumping Chris Bosh.
Danny Green made all six shots, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points for the Spurs. They host Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Tony Parker had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting for the Spurs, who were so precise in their 92-88 victory in Game 1 but threw the ball all over the white-surrounded court Sunday, committing 17 turnovers that led to 19 Miami points.
Tim Duncan shot 3 of 13 and finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
James insisted he wouldn’t force himself to do more after he had a triple-double in Game 1 but never seized the opportunity to take control of the scoring.
He didn’t need to. Not with Chalmers making big shots, the Heat’s defense forcing the Spurs to look shaky all over the floor, and a barrage of second-half 3-pointers.
James finally got some openings late, hanging from the rim an extra second not long after a sensational blocked shot freed him up for a fast break.
The often-maligned Chalmers is often found in Heat highlights being yelled at by James or another Miami veteran. But he’s as cocky as any of the superstars in Miami, and he has the big-moment plays to back up his bravado, from a tying shot for Kansas in the 2008 NCAA championship game to his 25 points in Game 4 of last year’s finals.
The point guard sparked the Heat late in the third, after San Antonio had taken a 62-61 lead. He converted two three-point plays, Allen and Mike Miller nailed 3-pointers, and James made only his third field goal of the game during a 14-3 finishing spurt that sent Miami to the fourth with a 75-65 advantage.
They opened the fourth with nine straight points to make it 84-65, erasing any chance of their first two-game losing streak in five months.
The Spurs had only four turnovers in Game 1, tying an NBA Finals record low. But they surpassed that total in the first quarter, Parker committing two of their five after not coughing it up once in the opener, and the Spurs looked more like the sloppy Indiana Pacers from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals than the Spurs of Game 1.
The unrecognizable play continued, Parker firing passes on the pick-and-roll right into a Heat player’s leg on multiple occasions and even getting yanked barely three minutes into the third quarter after his struggles continued.
The Spurs responded with seven straight points without him to get back within one. But by the end of the period, it was Chalmers who was the best point guard on the floor.
Notes: The Spurs remained at 131 playoff wins, two back of the Lakers for most in the NBA since 1997, when Duncan was drafted. … Clippers veteran Chauncey Billups, a former NBA Finals MVP, was chosen Sunday as the first winner of the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award. It was named for Maurice Stokes, who was paralyzed in an on-court accident in 1958, and teammate Jack Twyman, who became Stokes’ legal guardian and watched over him for 12 years until Stokes died in 1970.
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