James has triple-double to get first NBA ring
Fil-Am coach Spoelstra makes history
MIAMI (6th UPDATE) - The Miami Heat demolished the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 on Thursday to win the National Basketball Association championship 4-1, sweeping the last four games of the series.
LeBron James led an outstanding team effort with a brilliant all-round game, grabbing a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a game-high 13 assists.
Six Heat players scored in double figures, including Chris Bosh with 24 and reserve Mike Miller with 23, who went 7-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc in a spectacular shooting display for the Heat.
Miami pulled away in the third quarter when they ran off 16 points in a row to build a 25-point lead and send the raucous standing-room American Airlines Arena crowd into an early celebration.
James named MVP
James was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals after leading the Heat to the crown, capturing his long-sought first championship and delivering on the promise he made to Heat fans when he came to Miami two years ago.
Miller came off the bench to sink 7-of-8 shots from 3-point range and finish with 23 points. He was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc in the first four games of the series.
The Heat won the best-of-seven series in five games to claim their first title since 2006.
This was James' third trip to the NBA Finals, including one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his first title in his nine years in the NBA.
Miami used impressive 3-point shooting, hitting 14-of-26 from beyond the arc as a team.
The Heat also shot 58 percent from the field in the first quarter and never eased up on the Thunder, opening a huge lead with an explosive third quarter, outscoring Oklahoma City 36-22.
Durant scores 32
Three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 32 points and 11 rebounds and guard Russell Westbrook had 19 points and six assists for the Thunder, who were blown out after losing three contests in a row by close margins heading into game five.
James showed no effects of the painful leg cramps he had to battle on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), knocking down the go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter on the way to a 104-98 victory.
On Thursday (Friday in Manila), Durant made a dunk with 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter and cut the Heat lead to 31-26.
The Heat used a balanced scoring attack right from the opening tip-off, going up by nine points, 28-19, with 1:50 left in the first quarter when Miller hit a 25-foot jumper from beyond the arc.
James scored seven of Miami's first 16 points in the first quarter as he helped set the tone early.
Heat all-star guard Dwyane Wade had to take a seat on the bench with 5:35 to play in the second quarter after picking up his third foul.
Miller and Mario Chalmers, who finished with seven assists, picked up the slack without Wade, who was the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals.
Wade finished with 20 points and eight assists.
The second quarter was highlighted by huge runs by both teams. Miami broke the game open with a 19-4 run to take a 53-36 lead with 4:41 to play in the period.
Oklahoma City answered with a 13-6 run to finish the quarter. Durant banked in a jump shot with 14 seconds left to cut the Miami's lead to 59-49 at half-time.
Bosh scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter as Miami seized command, leading 95-71 heading into the fourth.
Fil-Am coach makes history
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra became the first Filipino-American coach to win a major league sports title in the United States.
Spoelstra’s mother, Elisa Celino, is from San Pablo, Laguna. His Dutch-Irish-American father, Jon Spoelstra, worked as an executive with various NBA teams.
Spoelstra has visited the Philippines for the past three summers to conduct basketball clinics.
Spoelstra said coming back to win the title this year was gratifying.
"We remember last year, we wanted to make up for last year," the coach said. "We had confidence in what we could do."
"We had so much pain, so much pain, so much embarrassment from last season," said Wade. "Nothing had to be said. We were on a mission and that mission was not completed until tonight."
"Losing the finals last year put me back in place, it humbled me a lot," said James, who gave in to his elation. "It's about damn time!"
"I'd like to congratulate the Miami Heat," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They did a fantastic job. We ran into a team that was tough to beat tonight. -- With Reuters; AFP
(Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder will be replayed on ABS-CBN Studio 23 at 9:30 p.m.)