Game 2 parker

On the strength of LeBron James’ 35 points and 10 rebounds combined with the San Antonio Spurs’ inability to make free throws down the stretch, the Miami Heat edged out a 98-96 Game 2 victory that ties the NBA Finals series at 1-1.

“LeBron with the ball did a great job at his end and we had to be really pretty perfect at the other end and we didn’t,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “We didn’t take advantage of things. We made bad decisions.”

Chris Bosh added 18 points and hit a crucial 3-point shot late in the waning minutes of Game 2 that gave Miami the victory. Dwayne Wade finished with 14 points and seven rebounds and the Heat have now won 13 straight games following when following a loss that dates back to 2012.

The Spurs displayed one of their poorer offensive performances despite losing by only two points, shooting 43 percent from the field. Even more devastating was the 12-for-20 shooting from the free throw line, including four crucial misses from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in the fourth quarter.

Duncan was solid again with 18 points and 15 rebounds, recording his 157th career playoff double-double that ties him all-time with former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson.

“It doesn’t matter what we’ve been through before, we’re here now again and we lost a game. We’re not going to hang our heads,” said Duncan about the series.“We know we can play better.”

The catalyst for the loss was James’ scorching hot shooting in the second half. James scored 22 points in that stretch on 8-for-11 shooting and he hit all three of his long range attempts.

“For me once I get into a good groove, I feel like everything is going to go in,” James said. “But for me I just try to make plays out there on the floor, and like I continue to say, put myself and my teammates in a position to succeed and live with the results after that.”

For the most part the Spurs were engaged throughout the game. Parker’s ankle didn’t seem to have any lingering effects from playing in the hot Game 1 environment, scoring 21 points with seven assists.

But Parker looked flustered after a defensive possession where he was elbowed by Mario Chalmers who was going baseline. The play resulted in a Flagrant 1 foul and two free throws, but Parker subsequently missed both. Only 10 seconds later Duncan was fouled and missed his two, giving the Heat life and turning what could have been a six point lead for the Spurs into a two point win for Miami.

“It definitely affected me, but I’m a little bit frustrated; should have made them,” Parker said after the game.

“I don’t think we lose the game on that. We were up one with one minute and a half to go. We just couldn’t make the shot to come up on top. We had a great opportunity.”

Both teams traded strong defensive efforts in the first and second quarter. The Spurs opened with a 26-19 lead in which they held James and Wade to two points combined. The Heat rallied with a 24-17 second quarter where no Spurs starter scored a point other than Parker’s seven.

Kawhi Leonard struggled again shooting with a 3-for-9 effort and only nine points for the entire game. Leonard has been battling James on the defensive side and his offense has suffered for it with his second straight game not scoring in double figures.

It was Manu Ginobili who tried to turn things around after halftime. Ginobili scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half but missed a contested jumper that would have tied the game late and followed it with a bad pass that halted any Spurs chance of a comeback.

“It is just beginning but, of course, we took a tough one today. We were in a good spot. We played an okay game. Not perfect but we were right there and it slipped away,” said Ginobili.

“Now we are in a tough situation because we have to go to Miami. We don’t want to come back here down 3-1; it’s very hard to overcome that.”

The Spurs loss ends a nine-game home playoff winning streak, which was one shy of tying an NBA record. Currently the Spurs are 10-2 at home in the playoffs with the other loss coming from Game 2 win by Dallas Mavericks.

Games 3 and 4 will be played at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. The new format of the NBA Finals will then have the Spurs back home for Game 5 instead of playing a three-game set in Miami.

Tipoff for Tuesday’s Game 3 is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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