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LBJ came through as he had to. Done, as I stressed repeatedly before, by scoring the ball and not being the facilitator. He had his highest scoring game of the playoffs, 37, while tying his 3rd lowest assist total of assists in his 23 p/o games this postseason. He did it not so much with power going to the rim like he did for a 6 minute stretch in Game 6, but from outside the paint, where he had struggled all series. The key to that turnaround was not from a shot outside the paint, but rather a twirling and-1 made on Danny Green to give the Heat a 29-27 lead with 6:29 to go in the 1st half in Game 7. Up until that point, James was 1-5 for the game, including 0-3 from outside the paint. But that highlight reel moment gave him the confidence he needed to open up the rest of his game. He did make a key 3 in Game 6 off a Mike Miller offensive rebound, but it was the only one of the three he took in the last 2 minutes. Even more startling was that James was 9-43 in the series shooting from 17 feet and beyond before that drive on Green, and 18-59 from outside the paint. After that, James went 9-15, from 17 feet and beyond, over the final 30 minutes. He made just as many shots from 17+ in the last 30 minutes of the series as he had in the 311 minutes of action before the old-fashioned 3 he made mid-way through the 2nd quarter. He finished the series shooting 18-58 from 17+, 27-75 from outside the paint. LBJ scored 13 in the 3rd, including 3 3's, then scored 9 in the 4th, including 3 mid-range jumpers. As I pointed out last night, probably the 7th best Game 7 performance of the last 14 that have occurred since '57. Of course, MJ never was pushed to a Game 7 in any Finals, but LBJ's performance ranks up there with the best of them, and probably top 15 of any close-out game in the Finals. As for all-time individual performance in a NBA Finals series, it ranks in the top 20. I have it at #16. He turned the tide with his clutch play and shooting in the final 2 games of the series. D Wade had a nice game, particularly in the 1st half, when he scored 14 of his 23 points. With all that said, the Heat don't win if Shane Battier doesn't go 6-8 from 3. They may not win Game 6 if he doesn't go 3-4 from 3. Battier shot 9-12 from downtown in the last 2 games after going 5-30 in his previous 12 p/o games going back to the beginning of the Indiana series. He went from averaging making less than .5 3's per game in 12 games, not to mention at a 17% clip, to making 4.5 per over the 2 series-clinching wins, at a phenomenal 75% rate. Second year in a row he came through when his more heralded teammates needed him to. As for the Spurs, it was basically Tim Duncan and Kwahi Leonard to fend for themselves in the last 2 games, including, most critically, last night. Duncan missed a key 5 footer, but the blame for the loss can't be placed there. Tony Parker, who arguably had the best postseason of any player in the league coming in, ran out of gas and had 2 sub-par performances with a chance to close out the Heat. Parker finished 3-12, but more importantly, didn't score or have an assist in the 2nd half. Manu Ginobili, after an outstanding Game 5, was a shell of himself in the other 6 games. Stats don't show how much he cost the Spurs last night. He finished with 18 points and 5 assists. But hidden in those stats were his 4 turnovers in the 4th, 3 in the last 7 minutes, after not committing 1 in the first 36 minutes. He also went 1-5 in the 4th. Danny Green and Gary Neal, who combined for 50 points in Game 3, combined to go 3-19, including 1-9 from 3, in 62 minutes on the floor in Game 7. Bo Diaw, who did more than admirable job against LBJ prior to last night, had a -18 +/- ratio in 13 minutes last night. Duncan, despite the late miss, scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, had 4 steals and hit all 8 of his FT's. Kwahi Leonard made a name for himself in this postseason after posting his 9th double-double of the p/o's last night, with 19 points and 16 rebounds. It came down not only to LBJ playing like the best player should, but the Heat having 3 players stepping up, with Battier being the difference, versus the Spurs, who had just 2. Three of a kind beats a pair every time.

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