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THE NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS THE MIAMI CROWN MACHINE
CHRIS MANNIX
July 05, 2012
THE STARS DELIVERED AS EXPECTED, AND SURPRISING HEROICS FROM THE SUPPORT CAST HELPED THE HEAT ROLL TO THE TITLE
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July 05, 2012

The Nba Finals Champions The Miami Crown Machine

THE STARS DELIVERED AS EXPECTED, AND SURPRISING HEROICS FROM THE SUPPORT CAST HELPED THE HEAT ROLL TO THE TITLE

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HEAT 121, THUNDER 106

Battier had helped carry the Heat, and so had Chalmers, and now in the fifth and final game, as James, Wade and Bosh again did their thing (70 points), another unlikely hero stepped forth: Mike Miller, with a 23-point night. His body ravaged by injury, his knees and ankles wrapped tight with tape and supported by braces, Miller banged home four three-pointers in the first half and another three in the second. He made 7 of 8 from outside the arc. "Usually I can tell when I shoot that first one," said Miller. "I had some opportunities and fortunately I knocked them down."

For two days the Thunder had clung to the notion that it had yet to hit Miami with its best punch, and that one win would reclaim home court advantage and send Oklahoma City back home with a chance to win. Durant was aggressive, pouring in 32 points, but Miami refused to allow the Thunder to even sniff victory. James again controlled the action, operating out of the post, penetrating at will. There was an eerie calm about James. No emotion, no celebrating, even after big shots. When Chalmers egged on the crowd after a Wade layup in the third quarter gave the Heat a 92--67 lead, James coolly walked toward him and ordered him to settle down. Each time the Thunder surged, James was there, scoring (26 points), rebounding (11) and assisting (13) his way to his eighth career postseason triple double. He scored four points and handed out six assists in the pivotal third quarter, when Miami turned a 10-point halftime edge to 24.

With three minutes left in the game Spoelstra emptied the bench, and James finally allowed the moment to wash over him on the sideline. All the criticism, all the failure had led to this. Finally the world's greatest player was an NBA champion. "This was the hardest thing I've ever done as a basketball player," said James. "You just put a lot of hard work into it, and hopefully one day it pays off for you. This was a testament to that. I gave it my all, and it paid off tonight." For LeBron, and for all of Miami.

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