Wednesday, April 25, 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)

 
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