With their throne on the line, LeBron James and the defending NBA champions Miami Heat weren't ready to give up their crown.
James had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, Ray Allen drilled the tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds to force overtime and the desperate Heat escaped the visiting San Antonio Spurs 103-100 victory on Tuesday night to force a deciding seventh game in the NBA Finals.
"If we were going to go down tonight, we're going to go down with me leaving every little bit of energy that I had on the floor," James said. "We gave it everything we had.
"This is by far the best game I've ever been a part of. The emotions, the ups and downs but more than anything our mental toughness at the end of the game, when it looked like it was out of our hands and to be victorious. I'm blessed I could be a part of this."
With the series locked at 3-3, Miami will host the decider on Thursday with an opportunity to repeat as champions.
"We got a game seven on our floor for all the marbles," the fatigued James said. "It's the last game of the season and we have to muster all the energy we have. The best team will be crowned on Thursday night."
Mario Chalmers scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade 14 while Chris Bosh had 10 points with 11 rebounds and the game-saving block on Danny Green's potential tying 3-pointer to end the game.
"We just kept fighting," Wade said. "We just kept believing."
Tim Duncan collected 30 points and 21 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard had 22 with 11 boards, while Frenchman Tony Parker scored 19 for the Spurs, who get a final shot to win their fifth NBA Championship.
"Obviously, It's a disappointing loss, having a 10-point lead going into the fourth and having opportunities to close it out," said Duncan, who went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"We put ourselves in a great situation but they made plays down the stretch to take it away from us. It's a one-game series now. We know we can win here (Miami) or anywhere else."
The Spurs led by as many as 13 late in the third quarter and carried a 75-65 cushion into the final quarter but couldn't sustain it. Instead, James erupted for 16 points to rally the Heat.
"He played great down the stretch, he kind of willed it," Duncan said of the league's four-time MVP. "There aren't any other ways to put it. We were in the right position to close it out he found a way to put his team over the top."
The Spurs held a five-point advantage with 28 seconds remaining when James nailed a 3-pointer to pull the hosts within 94-92.
Leonard split a pair of free throws at the other end for 95-92. James missed a 3-point attempt but Bosh grabbed the rebound and zipped a pass to Allen in the right corner for the wide-open triple to knot the game at 95-95.
"When I seen CB (Bosh) get the rebound, I got to my spot," Allen said. "It's going to be a shot I will remember for a long time because of the situation. It wasn't looking good for us but we've been resilient all year."
The Spurs led 100-97 on a basket by Leonard and a free throw by Parker with just over 2.5 minutes left in the extra session but wouldn't score again.
Allen flipped in a runner and James took a pass from Wade for the go-ahead layup with 1:43 to go, making it 101-100.
After Allen added two free throws, the Spurs had a final shot but Bosh smothered Green's 3-pointer from the right corner as time expired, sending the sold out crowd into a frenzy, exiting American AirlinesArena.
"Both teams had a will to win," James said. "We made one more play at the end of the day."
Most Popular Stories
- Doctor Who Christmas Episode Begins Production
- HCL America Adding 1,200 IT Jobs
- Medical Mfg. Jobs Coming to Dayton
- Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury on Previously Unreleased Queen Cut
- Longtime Unemployed to Get Help in Las Vegas
- SpaceX Aims for Predawn Launch on Saturday
- U.S. Chamber Caught Up in Tax Inversion Question
- Women Key to Democratic Party: Clinton
- Feds Won't Say How Many Border Crossers Jailed
- Christie Didn't Order Bridge Shut Down, Feds Say