MIAMI -- LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21, and the Miami Heat survived a frantic finish to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in an NBA Finals rematch on Tuesday.
Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who matched the franchise’s best 25-game start at 19-6. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June’s title series.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin each added 15 for the Thunder, who have dropped two straight for the first time this season.
The Heat went 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history. They were 30 for 30 at Boston on March 24, 1993.
And it was a wild finals rematch -- one that lived up to expectations.
There was a fast start by the reigning champions, a one-handed dunk by James on an offensive rebound that will be added to his copious highlight reel, a scrum after a hard foul that led to double-technicals on Wade and Ibaka early in the fourth, an easy rally by the Thunder from an early double-digit deficit, and even a jawing match between Durant and James in the final minutes.
Such was the intensity that James slumped over the scorer’s table with
Oh, and there was a wild finish, as well.
Wade lost the ball on an ill-advised, behind-the-back dribble, and the turnover set up Durant for a two-handed dunk that got the Thunder within 96-95 with 44.1 seconds remaining.
Needing a stop on the next trip, the Thunder forgot to play defense instead. Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka both were confused on the ensuing Miami possession, and Bosh was left alone to take a pass from James and throw down a dunk that restored Miami’s three-point edge.
Oklahoma City got within one when Durant made a jumper over James, but no closer. Ray Allen’s two free throws with 15.6 seconds left made it 100-97, and Miami’s last three points came from the line after a Thunder foul and Westbrook getting hit with a technical for punching a table after arguing that he was fouled on his 3-point try in the final moments.
While the stars were stars, the Heat got help from one unexpected source. Chalmers was making everything, even unintended plays.
Allen lost possession on what looked to be a pass to no one, but Chalmers picked up the bouncing ball on the right wing, whirled and made a 3-pointer -- putting Miami up 86-79 with 8:14 left.
In the end, that cushion was necessary.