MIAMI — The heat is off LeBron James until Thursday, when he steps into another pressure cooker, the first Game 7 he’s ever played in a Finals.
No matter how it ends, it’s impossible to imagine Game 7 being any better than the epic show James and the Heat and Tim Duncan and the Spurs put on in Game 6.
This was one of the great Finals games of recent years, and when it ended with Chris Bosh throwing the ball to the American Airlines Arena ceiling after blocking Danny Green’s bid to tie the game with a three-pointer at the end of overtime, Miami had its 103-100 win.
And new life.
And yes, there is another big game for James to go out and win.
So much of Tuesday had belonged to Duncan, the great old MVP, and his Spurs, and then here came James in the final 12 minutes to save the Heat’s season.
He saved it like a true champion with a 16-point fourth quarter, with two assists and a big block.
James comes up with a huge blocked shot on Duncan late in the game.
“We dug down and got ourselves the win,” he said after his monster game, with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. “I was just trying to be aggressive and figure out a way to get my team back in the game.”
He did it when he had to, bailing the Heat out of the worst situation Miami had been in during this playoff run. The Heat couldn’t lose.
“It’s by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” James said. “The ups and downs, the roller-coaster and the emotions throughout the game — this is something you’ll never be able to recreate.”
When the Heat trailed by 10 to start the fourth, there were a lot of anxious Miami fans in the building. But James was the best player on the floor in those last 12 minutes of regulation, befitting the reigning and four-time MVP. He brought the Heat all the way back and carried his team into overtime by taking matters into his own hands.
“As you said, he kind of willed it,” Duncan said after scoring 30, but only five after halftime. “He made big defensive plays. He had a block on me. There’s no two ways to put it. We were in position to close it out and he found a way to put his team over the top.”
James got his team to Thursday, which was the first thing he had to do. When he left San Antonio after flopping in the fourth quarter of Game 5, scoring only three points in the final quarter, he didn’t promise a win or guarantee anything. All he said was, “I have to come up big, for sure in Game 6,” he said.