6/14/2013 5:00:00 AM Thursday roundup: James, Wade, Bosh all excel as Heat even series; Blackhawks rest after winning Cup Finals opener
Heat 109, Spurs 93 (Series tied 2-2)
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Miami Heat owner Micky Arison had a message as he walked to the winning locker room.
"The death of the Big Three was overrated," he said.
Sure was. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his three prized players, are just fine.
So are the Heat's championship hopes.
Riding big performances from their three All-Stars, the Heat tied the NBA Finals with a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night in Game 4.
"It was on our shoulders," James said. "We had to figure out how to win the game for us and play at the highest level. When all three of us are clicking we're very tough to beat."
James had 33 points and 11 rebounds after failing to break 20 points in any of the first three games of the series, and Wade scored 32 points, 11 more than his previous high this postseason.
Bosh matched his playoff high with 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, he and Wade supplying the baskets that finally put the Spurs away for good midway through the fourth quarter.
Three players, 85 points. Just the way the Heat envisioned it when they signed James and Bosh to play with Wade in 2010.
"When Bosh, Wade and James score the way they did tonight and shoot it the way they did tonight, a team is going to have a difficult time if you help them like we did," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
"When those guys are playing like that, you better be playing a perfect game."
The Spurs weren't, committing 19 turnovers that led to 23 points.
And just like they have for the last five months, the Heat bounced back from a loss with a victory. They are 12-0 after defeats since Jan. 10, outscoring opponents by an average of nearly 20 points in the previous 11 victories.
Tim Duncan scored 20 points for the Spurs, who have one more game here on Sunday. They fell to 10-3 at home all-time in the finals, failing to back up their 113-77 victory in Game 3 that was the third-most lopsided score in the history of the championship series.
James insisted he would be better after shooting 7 of 21 from the field with no free throws in that game, saying he was the star and it was his job to lead his team. He was 15 of 25 on Thursday.
But while James - and millions of critics worldwide - wanted to pile all the pressure on the league's MVP, it was Wade on Wednesday who said it was the Heat's three All-Stars who had to lead them together, or there would be no championship.
He was right. And now those championship hopes are right back on track.
"It was all about myself, Chris and LeBron coming out and leading this team to a victory," Wade said.
"The thing we talked about is we all have to make an impact in this game, somehow, some way."
Wade shot 14 of 25, adding six steals, six rebounds and four assists in a performance that James compared to when Wade was MVP of the 2006 finals.
Tony Parker had 15 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who made a finals-record 16 3-pointers on Tuesday but got up only 16 attempts in this one. Gary Neal scored 13 points and Danny Green had 10, solid nights but nothing like when they combined for 13 3-pointers two nights earlier.
"They play very aggressive defense," Parker said. "They gamble and they take a lot of chances, and tonight it worked."
The Heat guaranteed they will get at least one more game on their home floor. Game 6 will be Tuesday night, where they could have a chance to celebrate a second straight championship.
The revelry in south Florida was marred Thursday by an accident in which the deck behind a popular sports bar collapsed during the game, spilling patrons into Biscayne Bay. Miami Dade Fire Chief David Downey said 24 people were transported to area hospitals, and that two people were in serious condition.
"We share our concerns for all that was injured at Shuckers restaurant," Wade said as he started his postgame news conference.
Wade, battling right knee pain throughout the spring, helped the Heat put it away in the fourth quarter. He followed a basket with a steal and dunk, pushing the lead to 90-81, and after he made another jumper, Bosh scored the next six Heat points, taking the load off of James.
"We're not going to put him on an island," Bosh said. "He's never alone. We're out there with him."
The Heat switched their lineup, inserting Mike Miller, who made 10 of his 11 shots, going 9 of 10 on 3-pointers, in the first three games of the series. They changed uniforms, too, switching from their road reds to their blacks.
The only change they really needed was in the performances of their Big Three.
James called it a "must-win" and it probably was: No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals.
And the way their three stars played, they couldn't lose.
The Heat blocked shots, made stops, and occasionally flopped, playing with renewed aggression after what coach Erik Spoelstra called a "miserable" day of watching and analyzing their passive performance from Tuesday.
They still haven't lost two in a row since Jan. 8 and 10.
Parker played through a strained right hamstring, shooting 7 of 16, but the Spurs couldn't match the Heat's speed.
After the teams traded blowouts in the previous two games, momentum swung wildly in a first half that ended tied at 49. San Antonio raced to a quick 10-point lead, fell behind by 10 with 7 minutes left in the half, then finished with an 11-2 spurt sparked by reserve Boris Diaw. Bosh dove for a dunk that came just after the buzzer, Spurs owner Peter Holt waving it off from his seat along the sideline.
James rocked back and forth during the national anthem, a bundle of energy ready to get going. It took a few minutes after the game started, but he began playing with the speed and power that can make him unguardable, grabbing rebounds on defense and rushing the ball up the floor himself to get the Heat into their offense.
He and Wade combined to make 10 of 11 shots and score 21 points in the first quarter, helping the Heat erase their early 10-point deficit to go ahead 29-26.
Popovich even lit into Duncan during an early second-quarter timeout with Miami on its way to a 41-31 advantage, but the Spurs had it back to even by the time the teams headed to the locker room.
Teams rest after 3-OT Game 1 thriller
CHICAGO (AP) - Long after the celebration was over, Marian Hossa finally made it home and managed to fall asleep around 3 a.m. The Chicago star woke up a few hours later, roused by a noisy neighbor.
"I think my neighbor decided he was going to drill in the morning. That was really unpleasant," Hossa said Thursday. "You know, hopefully, he is going to get the message for next time, he won't drill. Feel a little tired today."
It's OK, Marian. Everyone was a little tired after a rousing start to the Stanley Cup finals.
Chicago and Boston played three overtimes Wednesday night in the fifth-longest game in the history of the NHL's marquee series. It finally came to an end - at the stroke of midnight, no less - when Andrew Shaw deflected Dave Bolland's shot into the goal to give the Blackhawks the victory.
It was a deflating outcome for the Bruins, who also lost important forward Nathan Horton to an injury during the first overtime, while the Blackhawks seemed relieved that they didn't have to sit on such a heartbreaking loss for two days before Game 2 on Saturday night.
"It's one of those games being down 3-1, you come back to tie it 3-3, you feel like something was left on the table if you didn't come back and win it," forward Patrick Kane said. "The game went a long time. It's definitely a good feeling winning in the third overtime when it does go that long."
The winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the title in 56 of the 73 seasons since the NHL went to a best-of-seven format for the championship series in 1939. The Blackhawks won the first two games when they beat Philadelphia to win it all in 2010.
Just don't expect to see much concern coming from the Boston camp. The Bruins dropped the first two games at Vancouver in the 2011 finals, and went on to take the series in seven games.
"I don't think much is going to rattle our team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're a pretty resilient group of guys. We live in the moment."
Boston was on a power play during the first overtime when Horton tangled with Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the Chicago net. Horton skated off with what appeared to be some sort of upper body injury.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed here," Julien said. "He's day to day, and he's back with us hopefully the next day."
Horton plays with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on Boston's dangerous top line, and any sort of extended absence would be a major blow for the Bruins. Lucic had two goals and an assist in Game 1, Krejci had two assists and Horton also had an assist,
The line has 21 goals and 36 assists in the playoffs.
"He's a guy that's been coming up big for us in the playoffs," defenseman Torey Krug said. "To not have him in the rest of that game definitely hurt us. But we have confidence in our guys."
There were plenty of reasons for optimism for the Bruins, who led 3-1 in the third period and had numerous opportunities to win in the overtimes. Two shots went off posts. Kaspars Daugavins had a terrific opportunity in the third extra session, but was unable to knock it in.
While the Bruins just missed on a couple of great scoring opportunities, Johnny Oduya's tying goal for Chicago in the third period was headed wide before it went off the left skate of Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. Then there was the carom off Shaw's right leg for the winning score.
"I think what it shows everybody is it's going to be a great, tight series," Ference said. "There's going to be little plays that do make the difference and that's fine by us. I think both teams are comfortable in tight games and have dealt with that before. It's good."
Besides, the couple of fortunate plays for Chicago were far from a happy accident. The Blackhawks' emphasis on traffic in front of the net and throwing pucks on the goal paid dividends when they ran into a pair of hot goaltenders in the previous two rounds, and it worked again when they pelted Tuukka Rask with 63 shots in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Expect more of the same for the rest of the series. The Blackhawks think if Rask can see the puck coming, it will be next to impossible to score against the 6-foot-2 goalie.
"Sometimes you can maybe beat them with one-timers, but I think traffic is the key," Quenneville said. "Loose pucks, getting to the net is critical scoring goals against these top guys."
The Blackhawks and Bruins had kept an eye on each other for weeks as both teams progressed through the playoffs, but the three-overtime thriller was their first game since Boston's 3-2 shootout victory on Oct. 15, 2011. There were no games against teams from the other conference during the lockout-shortened season.
After all that video and scouting, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said the Bruins are everything he thought they would be, and then some.
"I know you watch them, now you get to play against them, you see they're fast, maybe faster than you anticipated," he said. "Their top line was extremely dangerous. They've got some guys that can make plays. They got patience with the puck. Certainly got our attention."