Heat Tops Thunder, Nears Title

LeBron James battles through thigh cramps
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 20, 2012 3:00 AM CDT
Heat Tops Thunder, Nears Title
Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh reacts after diving for a loose ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder.   (Lynne Sladky)

A limping, grimacing LeBron James shook off the pain of leg cramps to hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer and the Miami Heat held on to edge the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-98 last night, taking a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. No team has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the finals, so James' resilient basket with 2:51 remaining looks likely to be the moment that clinches the title for the Heat.

Game 5 is tomorrow and James will have a chance to finish a nine-year chase that started in Cleveland before he left for South Florida before last season. James made it clear he plans to play. Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers finished off a stellar 25-point effort that matched Dwayne Wade. James had 26 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds. The Heat needed all James could give and more to hold off Russell Westbrook. He scored 43 points for the Thunder, who wasted an early 17-point lead but were never out of the game because of their sensational point guard. (More NBA stories.)

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