RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Now for some sports news out of Miami, the Heat pulled even with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals with a 103 to 84 victory last night. The game was close until late in the third quarter when the Heat went on a big run and opened up an insurmountable lead. NPR's Mike Pesca was at the game and filed this report.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Midway through the third quarter, this looked like Lebron James was headed for the worst playoff game of his career. He had only four first half points. He was three for 13 from the floor. Mario Chalmers, a nice player, a bit below Lebron in the NBA firmament, was leading the team. So did the Heat panic? They did not. Because, Chalmers said, they knew this about their much scrutinized teammate.
MARIO CHALMERS: We know that Lebron, he's the best player, so, you know, he's going to get his at any given moment. So, you know, we just try to make the Spurs guard us and, you know, make it easy on him.
PESCA: But the Spurs could not guard James or anyone in a Heat uniform, nor could they score on the wearers of white. With a little over three minutes left in the third quarter, the Spurs had a one point lead. Eight minutes of game time later, the Spurs were trailing by 27. That is some quick strike, damn the shooting stats, scoff at the Hall of Famer on the other team type stuff.
By the end of the game, James had his usual nice stat sheet, 17 points, seven assists, eight boards, but the Spurs Manu Ginobili says the evisceration cannot be laid at the feet of one man.
MANU GINOBILI: It wasn't just, you know, Lebron attacking us or getting those 13 points. It was just the whole Miami team just killing us.
PESCA: Thus far, the series has been defined by the uncharacteristic play of two great teams. The Spurs melted down last night, weird. The Heat got out hustled on Game One. It simply doesn't happen. Miami is harassing and active. In Game One, they could muster only the aggression of a mewling kitten. The Spurs had four turnovers that game.
In Game Two, the Spurs had 16. So what changed? The San Antonio players just said Miami was more aggressive. The Heat's coach, Erik Spoelstra would have us believe that the deluge sprang from a dozen little trickles.
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Midway through the third quarter, we were losing every skirmish, every loose ball, every tipped ball, every broken play. Then, it changed, for whatever reason, the momentum and the energy, but this series will be defined by those plays.
PESCA: The series will most likely be defined by the question of if the Heat can harness the same energy level they showed Game Two and if the Spurs have an answer. The post season the Heat have won and won big after every loss, but last series, at least, they suffered a loss after every win. We'll see if the pattern changes on Tuesday night when the series moves to San Antonio for three straight. Mike Pesca, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.