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NBA Finals: LeBron James Quiets Critics With Huge Performance


LeBron James changed three elements in Game 2 of the NBA Finals: He abandoned the stretch knee pads that are thought to provide extra heat to the body; he participated in a yoga session the morning of the game; and he was a determining factor in the Miami Heat’s 98-96 victory in San Antonio that evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

James, with images of being carried off the court because of leg cramps in the Heat’s Game 1 loss, created a more flattering picture in his first opportunity to lash out at the myriad critics who made him the butt of a barrage of jokes. Widely considered the best player on earth, James showed why he is lauded in such fashion.

He scored 35 points to go with 10 rebounds, and made the pass to Chris Bosh that led to the go-ahead three-point basket with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter. Miami’s stout defense took over from there, clamping down on the Spurs’ top players and not allowing a point until Manu Ginobilli’s meaningless three-point shot at the buzzer.

In the end, though, the focus was on James, who played more than 37 minutes and was 14-for-22 shooting. He made 11 of his last 13 shots, including three three-pointers.

”What happened on Thursday was Thursday,” James said. ”My whole focus was how I was going to try to help this team even this up and just try to make some plays.”

Tony Parker scored 21 points for the Spurs, with Tim Duncan adding 18 points and 15 rebounds. But both star players missed two free throws in the fourth quarter that were costly. And James stripped Parker of the ball late in the game.

”Down the end there they executed really well,” Duncan said. ”LeBron made some great passes and guys made open shots. We had the same result in the first game. They kind of flipped it in this one.”

The game was played in comfortable conditions inside the AT&T Center, where an air conditioning failure in Game 1 sent temperatures soaring to about 90 degrees and contributed to James suffering from leg cramps. The broken circuit breaker was fixed by Friday afternoon, and it was much cooler inside the arena.

”Obviously, having No. 6 in the game at the end was a plus for us,” Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. Game 3 is Tuesday in Miami

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