LeBron James’ highlight block punctuates Miami’s blowout win as San Antonio hosts the awkward middle games of the NBA Finals.
The game was firmly in hand, but LeBron James had to put his stamp on the win. His stamp was more like a thunderous piledriver, James stuffing San Antonio’s seven-footer Tiago Splitter right at the front of the rim.
It was one of those no-doubt-about-it blocks in which a foul couldn’t have been called. Everything went right in that fourth quarter for the Miami Heat as they turned a close game into a laugher, the final score of 103-84 not even indicating how out of control the game got.
That swat is the greatest I’ve ever seen in any basketball game. Splitter took a power dribble, had momentum and still got turned back.
“I wanted to make an impact in some way,” James said. “I just wanted to make some plays, help our team. I was able to protect the rim on that play. Basically, I told myself, ‘You’ll end up on “SportsCenter” one way or another. You’ll either get dunked on or a block.’ Luckily, I was on the good side of the Top 10 and Not So Top 10.”
The rejection narrowly edged a block my friend Leo suffered when we were in eighth grade. Our P.E. teacher would frequently play with us and he caught up to poor Leo, who thought he had an open layup, and simply annihilated that shot. It was Tayshaun Prince snuffing Reggie Miller but nine years earlier.
Every time I see the P.E. Teacher he asks, “Where’s Leo?” I say I don’t know. With a smile he says, “He’s not here ’cause he knows I’m around.” That block haunts Leo to this day and in fact, when I mentioned that James’ highlight was the best block I had seen, Leo asked if it was better than the one against him.
Tiago Splitter had his dunk blocked cleanly in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
LeBron James is the man to blame for Splitter’s misery (video above).
Will Splitter look around his shoulder when he’s in the paint? Will he have sleepless nights?
“A lot of players wouldn’t go for that,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “(It’s) risk-reward and they weigh that right away and the possibility of getting dunked on … it takes great courage to go up and make that kind of play.”
James had a down game scoring (17), however he was stellar as always in every other category: eight rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and three steals. After scoring just eight points through three quarters, James put up nine in the decisive final stanza.
“They did a great job,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said.
Mario Chalmers led Miami with 19 points while Ray Allen put up 13 off the bench.
San Antonio’s Big Three was dreadful. Tony Parker, Tm Duncan and Manu Ginobili combined to shoot 10 out of 33 from the field.
The Heat finished off the Spurs with a 33-5 run from the end of the third quarter and into the fourth. You will rarely see that type of dominance in the NBA.
Now the Spurs will have the difficult task of trying to sweep all three home games in the 2-3-2 Finals format. Until the Detroit Pistons did that in 2004 no team had ever done that. Just last year the Heat dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder by notching the middle three games.
I’ve never been a fan of this format. It doesn’t benefit either team. The rigors of luxury travel don’t exist today like 1985 when this format was first adopted.
With the series tied at one game apiece, expect this to come back to Miami. Both teams are too good to lose three straight in one location.