Heat's James and Wade pause during a break in play against the Spurs during Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami

NBA Finals Game 7 Spurs vs. Heat: Miami earns repeat title in dramatic Game 7

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The Miami Heat are back-to-back NBA Champions, but the San Antonio Spurs made them earn every last bit of it.

It was a hard-fought if not always pretty Game 7, but LeBron James finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead Miami to a 95-88 win.

LeBron was rightfully named NBA Finals MVP. He earned that with a good series where he stepped up and played his best when his team needed it in the fourth quarter of Game 6 and all of Game 7. LeBron joins Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the only players to win back-to-back MVPs and NBA titles in the same years.

This has been the most entertaining NBA Finals in years and that was due in large part to a Spurs team that never wilted under Miami’s pressure. Tim Duncan had 24 points, 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard had 18 and the Spurs as a team showed why they were one of the best teams of their generation. But in the end Tony Parker had to sit as he was gassed and Manu Ginobili made turnovers. Even the great Duncan missed a clean look to tie it late.

Miami had great games from LeBron and Dwyane Wade — 23 points as he attacked on two bad knees — and then the surprise performance from Shane Battier who had 18 points with an NBA Finals record 6 three pointers. But it was the pressure of the Heat defense that ended up getting them this series, they forced enough key turnovers and made enough plays to win.

And with that they carve out a little bit of NBA history as back-to-back champions.

 

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Here is our live blog from Game 7:

END OF REGULATION The Miami Heat are back-to-back NBA Champions. They had to earn it in one of the best NBA Finals we have seen in a long time.

END OF REGULATION MIAMI WINS 95-88.

:16.3 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili misses long three, desperate three. Wade gets rebound, fouled, hits one. 95-88 Miami.

:23.5 Fourth Quarter: LeBron hits both, 94-88 Heat.

:23.5 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker on the bench and Manu Ginobili drove baseline and then threw a bad pass that LeBron steals. Terrible play by Manu.

:28 Fourth Quarter: If Game 6 taught us anything, it is that this game is not over.

:28 Fourth Quarter: LeBron with pull-up 18-footer gives Heat 92-88 lead.

:46 Fourth Quarter: Tim Duncan had a chance to tie, had smaller Battier on him in the block, spun to the lane and missed, then missed the tip in. Oh, what a chance. Heat lead 90-88 with the ball and a chance to really make this hard on the spurs.

1:35 Fourth Quarter: Chalmers fouled by Green on a drive (bad reach in by Green), missed both freebies. 90-88 Heat.

2:00 Fourth Quarter: Leonard has ice water in his veins, hits three. 90-88 Heat.

2:34 Fourth Quarter: Wade scores inside. Duncan misses. 90-85 Heat.

3:06 Fourth Quarter: Shane Battier with 18 points on 6-7 from three. That is an NBA Finals Game 7 record for threes. He is the role player who steps up.

3:06 Fourth Quarter: Duncan with an and-1 that is Bosh’s fifth foul. 88-85 Heat.

3:17 Fourth Quarter: Shane Battier with a corner three on a LeBron kickout.Heat by 6.

4:09 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili three made it 85-82 and Green had a chance to tie on a Heat turnover.

4:58 Fourth Quarter: Chris Bosh 0-5 for the game, but he has played good defense on Duncan. Thing is, Duncan still scores because he is a machine with 12 counter moves in the post. 83-79 Heat.

5:37 Fourth Quarter: LeBron James with 31 points on 19 shots. Dwyane Wade has added 20 playing on two bad knees. Together 51 points on 38 shots.

5:37 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili throws the ball into the first row, fifth turnover of the quarter for the Spurs, that will kill them. LeBron bucket makes it 83-77 Heat.

6:38 Fourth Quarter: 81-77 Heat. Spurs refuse to go away, helped a lot by Ginobili with 15.

7:34 Fourth Quarter: Common foul from Spurs on key play — Spurs fouled LeBron in back court as he passed to Wade, who had a clear path for a fast break… except Wade had fallen and would not have been able to make a play. Good call by refs, Wade would not have scored on that play.

8:34 Fourth Quarter: I’m going to go through withdrawals tomorrow with this series over. It has been that good.

8:34 Fourth Quarter: Battier misses three. Battier misses three. Kawhi Leonard has 13 rebounds already. 77-75 Heat.

9:42 Fourth Quarter: Birdman takes an offensive charge, gets an offensive rebound. Miami looks quicker and like they have more energy right now. LeBron free throws make it 77-73 Heat.

10:28 Fourth Quarter: That didn’t take long, Duncan and Parker back in. 76-73 Heat

11:05 Fourth Quarter: Battier with another three, 5-5 from deep. 75-71 Heat.

11:55 Fourth Quarter: Spurs stick with their rotation, rest Parker and Duncan to start fourth, Wade and LeBron in the game.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Both teams shot 50 percent in the third quarter. They loosened up.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: 72-71 Heat. Manu Gimobili made an impressive driving layup, the Heat had five seconds and Chalmers drove and took a long straight-away three that he banked in just before the buzzer. Wild end to the quarter. Chalmers loves his buzzer beaters in big games.

:27 Third Quarter: Shane Battier with his fourth three of the night ties it, 69-69.

1:33 Third Quarter: Ray Allen 0-4 from three tonight with three turnovers. Might be time for Heat to go away from him. 67-66 Heat.

2:18 Third Quarter: The shot clocks over the basket at one end are out, so they are turning off at both ends… wait, they fixed it. So all is right with the world. Sort of.

2:34 Third Quarter: This in some ways feels like the games the Spurs have won when they take the Heat’s best punch and keep finding ways. But will their legs hold out in the fourth is the question. If so they could win this.

2:34 Third Quarter: Duncan layup off pass from Diaw — Spurs once again withstand a little Heat run. 65-64 Spurs.

3:33 Third Quarter: Heat don’t want LeBron driving but he hits his second three in a row. Five threes from LeBron. Kawhi Leonard answers with an impressive and-1 62-60 Heat.

4:23 Third Quarter: LeBron drains his fourth three of the game on a pick-and-pop with Ray Allen. 59-57 Heat.

5:27 Third Quarter: Wade with a nice drive across the lane floater. Green answers with his first three all game. 57-56 Spurs. Green at 27 three for series.

6:48 Third Quarter: 54-54 at a timeout after Green got trapped. Rough game for Green, he has missed all his threes.

7:50 Third Quarter: Duncan with a bucket to tied it 54-54. Also, Duncan has four steals this game.

8:02 Third Quarter: Heat take lead on that pretty LeBron shot.

8:36 Third Quarter: Spurs turnover becomes pretty LeBron to Wade dunk in transition. 54-52 Heat.

9:55 Third Quarter: LeBron had time to build a campfire, make some smores, clean his hands, then set his feet and make a three. 51-48 Heat.

11:01 Third Quarter: Both teams looking a little more steady to start the second half, 46-46 tie.

HALFTIME: Here is the Heat shot chart by zone for the first half.

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HALFTIME: Here is the Spurs shot chart by zone for the first half.

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HALFTIME: This has been a slugfest of a first half, in particular compared to what was a pretty series up to then most of the time.

HALFTIME: Spurs took 26 shots in the paint in the first half, but hit just 45 percent of them. Heat, however, only 10 shots in the paint. They are knocking down jumpers now, but can they keep that up? Spurs would be willing to bet no.

HALFTIME: Heat shot 43.2 percent overall and 5-14 from three led by 15 from LeBron James and 14 from Dwyane Wade. They’d have a bigger lead but had 8 turnovers.

HALFTIME: Spurs shot 35 percent for first half, led by 13 points from Tim Duncan and 10 from Tony Parker. They are just 2-7 from three but got some good minutes from Manu Ginobili.

HALFTIME: 46-44 Heat as half ends with a Wade step back jumper.

1:25 Second Quarter: Ginobili draws questionable foul, hits both free throws, 42-40 Spurs back in lead.

1:43 Second Quarter: LeBron three, Leonard drive and foul. Next possession Duncan three. 40-40 tie.

2:53 Second Quarter: Heat have their 9th turnover of the game, this one courtesy Ray Allen. Heat have cracked 40 percent shooting barrier but turnovers helping keep Spurs close.

3:02 Second Quarter: Heat win scramble for loose ball on the floor, they seem to be winning a lot of 50/50 balls. 37-34 Heat.

4:15 Second Quarter: Spurs hanging around thanks to “look what I found” Gary Neal bank shot from three, and a couple Tim Duncan free throws. 35-32 Heat.

5:21 Second Quarter: LeBron James with a three makes it 33-27 Heat. Spurs have to hold on and not let a run happen.

6:29 Second Quarter: LeBron with a good an impressive and-1. So hard to foul him and stop his shooting motion. 30-27 Heat.

6:40 Second Quarter: Both teams shooting 36.7 percent, Heat hotter from three but turning ball over four more times. 27-27 tie.

7:46 Second Quarter: Duncan with the and-1 where he picked up the third foul on Bosh and sends him to the bench, Chris Andersen back in. 27-27 tie.

8:07 Second Quarter: Tony Parker post up? Tony Parker post up. 25-24 Heat.

9:12 Second Quarter: Heat get three offensive rebounds in once sequence, leads to a Chalmers drive and layup. 23-20 Heat.

9:55 Second Quarter: The in-arena music in Miami is like being in a dance club. In San Antonio it’s like 1988 Metal Fest.

9:55 Second Quarter: Shane Battier is shooting like he’s back at Cameron Indoor Arena, but the 7th Heat turnover leads the Spurs back. 21-20 Heat.

11:12 Second Quarter: Another Battier three. 21-16 Heat.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Shane Battier with 6 points, he could be the role player star you know would come out of somewhere this quarter. Tim Duncan was really solid for the Spurs but not anyone else.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: 18-16 Heat after 1. Not a very pretty first quarter. Heat shooting 36.8 percent, Spurs 31.8 percent.

:33 First Quarter: Another Shane Battier open three and Heat have their first lead, 18-15.

:50 First Quarter: Spurs have Duncan and Parker sitting, this is a key stretch for the Heat. Battier three and Birdman putback next possession 15-15

1:02 First Quarter: Drake is in the house, they showed him on the scoreboard. He has a Heat championship ring from last year… no, I have no idea why.

2:12 First Quarter: Spurs start out shooting 35% with 3 early turnovers, Heat 30.8% and they have 4 turnovers. Guys are tight. Not a surprise, especially if you remember the wrestling match that was Lakers/Celtics Game 7 in 2010.

3:03 First Quarter: Birdman with a block 15-10 Spurs.

6:18 First Quarter: The Spurs out to fast starts (or the Heat off to slow starts) has been a pattern this series. When the Spurs are on they don’t wilt under the Heat’s runs later in the game that close the gap.

6:18 First Quarter: Ginobili has to sit with his second foul. Heat shooting 2-of-8 to start and the lack of outside shots is not pulling the Spurs defense out of the paint. 11-6 Spurs

7:22 First Quarter: Hangover from last game, what hangover? 11-4 Spurs lead. They bounced back, the question is will their legs get tired in the second half.

8:01 First Quarter: Duncan starts 2-2 shooting, but Spurs with 2 turnovers. Chalmers off to a rough start. Ginobili with a three 9-2 Spurs.

9:58 First Quarter: Tim Duncan with a steal then he leads the “fast” break and dunks. 6-2 Spurs.

10:48 First Quarter: Tony Parker scores the first bucket of the game, a backdoor cut where Mike Miller lost him. LeBron jumper on the other end. 2-2.

11:25 First Quarter: LeBron starts on Ginobili, which means Chalmers on Parker.

12:00 First Quarter: Best part of the being in the arena, I don’t have to see Jessie Williams social media thing they apparently keep doing before the games (according to people complaining on my twitter timeline).

12:00 First Quarter: Dwyane Wade could be key — if he is off tonight and the Spurs defense can ignore him outside 15 feet they will pack the paint and make things hard for LeBron. If they need to be honest on him, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and the rest things open up for the Heat offense.

12:00 First Quarter: Heat can’t go away from Julia Dale at this point.

12:00 First Quarter: Every Game 7 has a role player rise up as a star, that is going to be fascinating. Remember in 2010 it was then Ron Artest, now Metta World Peace, who won Game 7 for the Lakers against the Celtics. Both teams were tight that day — Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce included. That was more wrestling match than basketball game and the winning team shot just over 32 percent. We’ll see who is loose tonight.

12:00 First Quarter: If you haven’t seen it, we have the video of LeBron James talking to the media before the game up live here at PBT, check it out.

12:00 First Quarter: We should note that Danny Green of the Spurs said before the game that he has come down with some kind of bug and is feeling a little off. May not impact his play, but something to watch.

One game. For the NBA championship.

Welcome to the ProBasketballTalk live blog for Game 7. This has been the best, most entertaining NBA Finals series in a while so it is fitting that it  has gone 7 games — and it’s good for us as fans. I’m Kurt, your host and bartender for the evening. I will be keeping you updated on the score, the action, the vibe and all things Game 7. Plus there will be snide remarks and sarcasm. Just know that going in.

Now pull up a chair and have fun.

Wade, Butler lead Bulls over Suns 128-121 in overtime

Chicago Bulls' Dwyane Wade (3) drives on Phoenix Suns' Alan Williams (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Chicago. The Bulls won in overtime 128-121. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler added 22 and the Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the Phoenix Suns 128-121 in overtime Friday night.

Devin Booker scored 27 points for Phoenix, but missed a chance to win it in regulation after Wade fouled him on a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left. Booker hit the first two free throws to tie it, then missed the third.

Wade and Butler led the Bulls as they rallied from 11 down in the fourth quarter to beat the Western Conference’s last-place team. Both players scored 14 points after the third quarter to help the Bulls win their third straight.

Nikola Mirotic scored 20 points and hit four 3-pointers. Robin Lopez added 19 points. Denzel Valentine, who figures to get more playing time after Doug McDermott was traded to Oklahoma City along with Taj Gibson on Thursday, had 15 points. The rookie hit 5 of 8 3-pointers.

Eric Bledsoe added 17 points and 10 assists for Phoenix. The Suns lost for the sixth time in eight games.

The Bulls scored 20 points in overtime and were leading 116-110 after a seven-point spurt that Mirotic started with a 3.

Wade put back Butler’s airball and hit two free throws to make it 122-115. And he had the crowd roaring in the closing minute when he drove for a dunk on Alex Lin and gave the raise-the-roof gesture.

The Suns appeared to be in good shape leading 102-91 with 4:32 remaining in regulation after Booker nailed a 3 to finish a 14-2 run, but the Bulls came storming back.

A dunk by Wade and 3 by Mirotic with 1:53 left cut it to 104-103 and drew a huge roar from the crowd.

Butler hit a 3 to tie it at 106-all with 48 seconds remaining, and after a driving Bledsoe lost the ball out of bounds, he nailed a baseline jumper to give Chicago a two-point lead with 9.1 seconds left.

TIP-INS

Suns: The Suns waived F Mike Scott and C/F Jared Sullinger on Friday, a day after acquiring them in trades. … The Suns also signed G Ronnie Price for the rest of the season.

Bulls: Rajon Rondo will remain in the backup point guard role, coach Fred Hoiberg said. … G Cameron Payne (flu), acquired from Oklahoma City, was unavailable.

 

DeMar DeRozan drops career-high 43, Raptors beat Celtics 107-97

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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart.

Down 91-88 with 4:11 to play, the Raptors went on a 9-1 run to lead by five with 2:01 to play. Though Crowder cut that lead to three with a jump shot with 1:46 remaining, DeRozan drilled a jump shot with a minute remaining to put the Raptors up by five.

Tucker was unable to convert either free throw after being fouled by Al Horford with 47 seconds left, but Thomas missed the next time down the court, and after being fouled by Smart, DeRozan converted both free throws with 33 seconds to play. He then followed up with two more after a three-point play from Smart to take the game away from Boston with 27.5 seconds to go.

The Celtics found their range early, connecting on 55 percent of their shots from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range in the first quarter. The Raptors could only hit 40 percent and went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc, and while DeRozan topped all scorers with 10 points, they were trailing 29-18 after 12 minutes.

Boston pushed its lead to 17 on a 3-point shot from Jaylen Brown with 1:29 to play in the half, but Toronto closed on a 7-0 run following a flagrant foul by Thomas on DeRozan.

The Raptors continued their comeback effort in the third quarter, with Ibaka’s 3-pointer with 5:58 to go capping a 27-8 Toronto run to give the Raptors their first lead since the 3:54 mark of the first quarter. Smart’s 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining handed Boston a 77-74 edge entering the final 12 minutes.

TIP-INS

Celtics: G Avery Bradley (right Achilles) sat out and coach Brad Stevens said G Gerald Green (left heel) would miss both Friday and Sunday’s games. Thomas extended his franchise record of consecutive 20-point games to 42.

Raptors: Cory Joseph replaced Lowry in the starting lineup.

UNITED NATIONS

The addition of Ibaka (Republic of Congo) means the Raptors now have seven players on their roster born outside of the United States, tied with Utah for the most in the NBA.

INSTANT IMPACT

Ibaka quickly made himself at home on Friday, blocking Thomas’s shot inside of three minutes, before following that up with his first points as a Raptor on a jump shot seconds later, bringing an enthusiastic Air Canada Centre crowd to its feet.

POWER PLAYER

While Raptors coach Dwane Casey patrolled one sideline, his Toronto Maple Leafs counterpart, Mike Babcock, took in the game from the opposing sideline, sitting courtside alongside Toronto’s chief of police. With the Leafs currently on a three-game homestand, the Stanley Cup-winning coach was able to enjoy an evening off before his team hosts the rival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

 

Magic President: Season has been ‘incredibly disappointing’

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18:  Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic competes in the 2017 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest at Smoothie King Center on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gerald Herbert - Pool/Getty Images)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando Magic president Alex Martins entered the season believing this was the franchise’s best chance to break into the playoffs for first time in the post-Dwight Howard era.

With 23 games remaining, Martins realizes that’s a longshot at best.

“The season to date has been incredibly disappointing,” Martins told The Associated Press. “We didn’t expect to be in mix for one of the top seeds by any stretch as we are progressing. Our hope was to get in there and make the playoffs.”

The team brought in two key veteran front-court additions to fuse with a young nucleus and hired an experienced playoff coach in Frank Vogel. The pieces seemed in place to end a five-year playoff drought.

But Orlando has the third-worst record in the NBA at 21-28 and have scrapped their dominant front-court plan, shipping Serge Ibaka to Toronto. Their slim postseason chances are quickly fading.

It’s other setback for 34-year-old general manager Rob Hennigan, who has not delivered on putting Orlando back into the playoffs during his nearly five-year tenure. The roster has been consistently re-made and three different head coaches have been hired during Hennigan’s tenure.

Martins expressed his excitement about the future of a young nucleus of players that includes Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier and now nearly acquired swingman Terrence Ross. He also spoke highly of Vogel, who was hired last May after a successful run with the Indiana Pacers .

But Martins didn’t mention Hennigan, who has one more year remaining on his contract.

When asked about the GM, the president said Hennigan’s future will be evaluated at the end of the season, along with the rest of the basketball operations staff.

“We feel that you have to have the complete book of business for the year to be able to evaluate them and we are going to do that,” Martins said. “Everybody is accountable to all of the results and we will evaluate our basketball operations staff extensively at the end of the year and make any decision that we need to make.”

Hennigan has not shied away from discussing his job security, acknowledging that things have not worked out as he had hoped to this point.

“The seat is always hot,” Hennigan said last week. “That’s something that comes with the territory and it’s just something that comes with the job. It’s a difficult job with a lot of complexities. We feel like we are figuring it out.”

But the results don’t seem to support Hennigan’s assertion that they are any closer to figuring it out than when he came aboard in June 2012. Draft picks haven’t panned out, free agents have been brought in and shipped out as quickly and there has seemed to be a revolving door at the head coaches’ office.

The latest fallout was the Ibaka acquisition that fell apart quickly. The Magic gave up a promising young player in Victor Oladipo and other assets in order to get Ibaka from Oklahoma City.

Ibaka, who entered the season on the final year of his contract, turned out not to be a good fit for the two-big men defensive scheme and wasn’t giving indication he would be willing to re-sign with the Magic this summer.

“We certainly didn’t want to put ourselves in that position if Serge were to make a decision to go elsewhere and not have anything to show for it,” Martins said. “We wanted to protect ourselves against that.”

There were reports Orlando would be active in trade market before Thursday’s deadline, but the only trade they ended up pulling off was the Ibaka-Ross deal. Martins said the team had hoped to add what it considered to be significant pieces as late as Thursday, but that it all fell through.

“As they say it takes two trade partners to make a deal happen but unfortunately nothing came to fruition,” he said.

Now the focus becomes finishing strong, eyeing what is being touted as one of the deepest drafts in years and then free agency. Martins anticipates having as much as $30 million in salary cap space to spend in free agency.

“If we can get lucky for the first time in several years in the lottery and get up into the top 3, obviously you have a difference maker in this draft,” Martins said. “We also expect to be aggressive in free agency this summer. So we will see.”

Report: Pelicans to waive Omri Casspi after broken thumb leaves them shorthanded

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 23:  Omri Casspi #18 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before a game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on February 23, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.

Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.

Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.