Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

LeBron James, Miami Heat beat Oklahoma City Thunder to win NBA championship

MIAMI — The decision is final: LeBron James made the right call coming to Miami.

Finally an NBA champion, it's all worth it now.

James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, and was named MVP of the Finals, leading the Heat in a 121-106 rout of the Thunder on Thursday night to win the title in five games.

"It's about damn time. It's about damn time," James said. "Happiest day of my life. It means everything.

"I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland, but I understood what my future was about. … I knew we had a bright future (in Miami). This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off."

James is the first league MVP in four major sports to win his league's championship that season since the Lightning's Marty St. Louis in 2003-04.

James left the game along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for good with 3:01 remaining for a round of hugs and the start for a celebration he has been waiting for since arriving out of high school as the No. 1 pick in 2003.

James hopped up and down in the final minutes, shared a long hug with opponent Kevin Durant, and watched the confetti rain down from the rafters.

The Heat took control in the second quarter, briefly lost it and blew it open again in the third behind its role players.

Bosh and Wade, the other members of the Big Three who sat alongside James as he promised titles at his Miami welcoming party two summers ago, both had strong games. Bosh, who cried after the Heat lost Game 6 last season, finished with 24 points and Wade scored 20. The Heat also got a huge boost from Mike Miller, who made seven 3-pointers and scored 23.

The disappointment of losing to Dallas in six games last season vanished in a blowout of the Thunder, who got 32 points and 11 rebounds from Durant.

"We came here to get a championship,'' Bosh said. "And we got it done.''

James is only the fifth player in NBA history to have a triple double in a title-clinching game, and the Heat is the first team to win an NBA title after trailing in three different series in a single postseason, according to Elias.

James was the most heavily scrutinized player in the league since his departure from Cleveland, when he announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach" on a TV special called "The Decision" that was much criticized.

He found in Miami a team where he never had to do it alone — though he reminded everyone during his sensational postseason run that he still could when necessary. He got support in this series, from Shane Battier's 17 points in Game 2 to Mario Chalmers' 25 in Game 4.

In the clincher it was Miller, the former Gator who is so banged-up from recent injuries that he practically limps from the bench to the scorer's table when he checks in. He made his fourth 3 of the half right before James' fastbreak basket capped a 15-2 run that extended Miami's lead to 53-36 with 4:42 left.

Durant added 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who made a remarkably early trip to the Finals just three years after starting 3-29. With Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden all 23 or younger, the Thunder have the pieces in place for a lengthy stay atop the Western Conference.

But their inexperience showed in this series, a few questionable decisions, possessions and outright mistakes costing them in their franchise's first playoff appearance since Seattle lost to Chicago in 1996. Westbrook scored 19 but shot only 4 of 20.

"Thank your for your patience,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told fans afterward.

OKLAHOMA CITY (106): Durant 13-24 3-3 32, Ibaka 3-9 3-4 9, Perkins 1-4 0-0 2, Westbrook 4-20 11-13 19, Sefolosha 0-2 0-0 0, Harden 5-11 6-6 19, Collison 1-3 0-0 2, Fisher 4-7 0-0 11, Cook 1-2 0-0 2, Aldrich 1-1 0-0 2, Hayward 1-2 0-0 2, Ivey 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 36-87 23-26 106.

MIAMI (121): James 9-19 8-9 26, Battier 4-8 0-0 11, Bosh 9-14 5-5 24, Chalmers 3-6 2-2 10, Wade 7-12 6-9 20, Miller 7-11 2-2 23, Haslem 0-1 1-2 1, Cole 1-4 0-0 3, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Howard 0-1 0-0 0, Turiaf 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 3-4 3. Totals 40-77 27-33 121.

Oklahoma City26232235—106

Miami31283626—121

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 11-28 (Fisher 3-6, Durant 3-6, Harden 3-8, Ivey 2-2, Sefolosha 0-1, Westbrook 0-5), Miami 14-26 (Miller 7-8, Battier 3-7, Chalmers 2-4, Bosh 1-1, Cole 1-2, Jones 0-1, James 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsOklahoma City 49 (Durant 11), Miami 48 (James 11). AssistsOklahoma City 19 (Westbrook 6), Miami 25 (James 13). Total FoulsOklahoma City 29, Miami 21. Flagrant Fouls—Fisher. A20,003 (19,600).

Changing perceptions?

LeBron James, much-criticized on a number of fronts, can change some perceptions with his first NBA title. A look at his numbers from the Finals this season:

PTS FG FT REB AST MIN Result
Game 5 26 9-19 8-9 11 13 44 W 121-106
Game 4 26 10-20 5-8 9 12 44 W 104-98
Game 3 29 11-23 6-8 14 3 44 W 91- 85
Game 2 32 10-22 12-12 8 5 42 W 100-96
Game 1 30 11-24 7-9 9 4 46 L 105-94
TOTALS 143 51-108 38-46 51 37 220 4-1
PTS FG FT REB AST MIN Result
Game 5 26 9-19 8-9 11 13 44 W 121-106
Game 4 26 10-20 5-8 9 12 44 W 104-98
Game 3 29 11-23 6-8 14 3 44 W 91- 85
Game 2 32 10-22 12-12 8 5 42 W 100-96
Game 1 30 11-24 7-9 9 4 46 L 105-94
TOTALS 143 51-108 38-46 51 37 220 4-1


James in the Finals

LeBron James' averages in his three Finals appearances:

Year Pts Reb. Result
2006-07 22 7 0-4 (vs. Spurs)
2010-11 17.8 7 2-4 (vs. Mavs)
2011-12 28.6 10.2 4-1 (vs. Thunder)

 
Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Published: 06/23/18
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Published: 06/23/18
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Published: 06/23/18
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Published: 06/23/18
Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech lost some significant players from an offense that averaged more than 40 points per game last season.The biggest departures were in the passing game. Mike Penix, the Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay offensive player of the ...
Published: 06/23/18