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December 26, 2012

Heat manage to hold off Thunder after furious finish to marquee matchup

(Continued)

MIAMI —

Such was the intensity that James slumped over the scorer’s table with 1:08 left, exhausted.

“I’m tired as hell right now,” James said — and that was more than an hour after the game ended.

With good reason. On an emotional day, there was a wild finish.

Wade lost the ball on an ill-advised, behind-the-back dribble, and the turnover set up Durant for a two-handed dunk that got the Thunder within 96-95 with 44.1 seconds remaining.

Needing a stop on the next trip, the Thunder forgot to play defense instead. Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka both were confused on the ensuing Miami possession, and Bosh was left alone to take a pass from James and throw down a dunk that restored Miami’s three-point edge.

“We went over and helped,” Durant said. “We just needed to help on the backside. There was miscommunication but we still had a chance to go into overtime.”

Two chances, actually.

Oklahoma City got within one when Durant made a jumper over James, but no closer. Ray Allen’s two free throws with 15.6 seconds left made it 100-97, and Miami’s last three points came from the line. Durant missed a 3-pointer that James contested, Westbrook wound up with a second chance that Wade defended, and the Thunder guard smacked a nearby table arguing that he was fouled.

“Part of the game,” Westbrook said.

While the stars were stars, the Heat got help from one unexpected source. Chalmers was making everything, even unintended plays.

Allen lost possession on what looked to be a pass to no one, but Chalmers picked up the bouncing ball on the right wing, whirled and made a 3-pointer — putting Miami up 86-79 with 8:14 left.

 

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