ORACLE ARENA — LeBron James had absolutely no intention of playing overtime in Oakland.
Down by two points with two tenths of a second remaining, James hit a three for the lead and a 111-110 win, sending the Warriors into the All-Star break on a sour note.
The final shot wasn’t what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra drew up in the huddle. When asked what intentions he had of going for two and the tie, James made it clear:
A 29-point effort from Stephen Curry plus 21 points and 11 rebounds from David Lee weren’t enough to overcome a sluggish first half against the reigning NBA champions.
With 2:01 to play, Lee had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line but missed on his first attempt. On the Warriors next possession, they took a 105-104 lead on a pull-up jumper from Andre Iguodala — only to be answered by a fadeaway three from LeBron James.
Curry hit a running bank shot with 14 seconds left — fouled on the way by Mario Chalmers — and made good on the and-one. But then James went into clutch mode, answering with a dagger from downtown.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson saw nothing wrong with Andre Iguodala’s defense on the final shot and lauded James, calling him a complete basketball player with no weaknesses:
“At the end of the day we witnessed greatness. A special player and an all-time great who made a big time shot.”
Stung early by a first-quarter buzzer-beating three from James, the Warriors started to break down defensively in the second frame allowing Miami to stretch an early lead into double digits.
Golden State cut the Heat lead to just four as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson started to find rhythm, but Miami went on a 9-2 run to close the half up 57-46.
The Heat came out of intermission sizzling, quickly opening their lead to 21 points.
Midway through the quarter, glass fell onto the court from the ceiling causing a momentary delay in the game. Heat broadcasters were amazed no one was hurt by the hazard, yet Warriors staff couldn’t tell SFBay what the falling objects were.
Golden State took the break as an opportunity to regain composure and close the gap.
Harrison Barnes came alive, hitting from beyond the arc in the open court followed by a fast break- two-handed-slam from Iguodala. A scoring see-saw — capped by a three from Curry with 1.7 seconds in the third — left Miami with an 84-82 advantage.
Curry opened the fourth quarter with a trey to take a 85-84 lead, but defensive breakdowns allowed Miami to get ahead once again. With just over three minutes remaining, Klay Thompson hit from downtown to stay within one point of the Heat, but it wouldn’t be enough.
After James’ last second heroics, Curry threw a lob hoping for a tip in from down low to no avail.
Though the Warriors were able to come within just inches of winning after overcoming a 21-point deficit, Curry said loss still stings:
“There are no moral victories but its not such a depressing loss that we won’t be able to recover.”
The Warriors (31-22) head into the All-Star break at eighth place in the Western Conference. Curry will start in the All-Star game, compete in the Shooting Stars challenge with his father Dell Curry and the Three Point shoot-out, while Harrison Barnes will represent the Warriors in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.
The Heat now have a league-best 8-2 record in the second game of back-to-backs this season. … Stephen Curry totaled 29 points and seven assists, shooting 8-of-14 from the field, 4-0f-4 from three and 9-of-9 from the free throw line… It’s the first time in Curry’s career he’s shot better than 50 percent from the field while gong perfect from three-point land and the free throw line. … LeBron James finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, joining Russell Westbrook, David Lee, Hakeen Olajuwon, Larry Bird and Clyde Drexler as the only players in the past 25 years to post those figures on the road.