Not when Mario Chalmers and everyone else did everything right.
Chalmers led the charge, James broke out to finish it with a flurry and the Heat used a 33-5 run to blow away the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 on Sunday night to even the NBA Finals at one game apiece.
James missed 10 of his first 13 shots and the Heat trailed by a point late in the third quarter before unleashing the brand of basketball that led them to a franchise-record 66 wins this season.
Chalmers finished with 19 points, and James had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while shooting only 7 of 17 from the field.
“I know my shooters only need a little bit of room to get the shot off,” James said. “For me, I struggled offensively, but the shooters made some good shots.”
The Heat made 10 of 19 3-pointers and got 13 points from Ray Allen, and 12 points and 10 rebounds from the previously slumping Chris Bosh.
Danny Green made all six shots, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points for the Spurs. They play host to Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Tony Parker had 13 points on 5 of 14 shooting for the Spurs, who were precise in their 92-88 victory in Game 1 but threw the ball all over the court Sunday, committing 17 turnovers that led to 19 Miami points.
Tim Duncan shot 3 of 13 and finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
James insisted he wouldn’t force himself to do more after he had a triple-double in Game 1 but never seized the opportunity to take control of the scoring as the game was slipping away from the Heat.
He didn’t need to. Not with Chalmers making big shots, the Heat’s defense forcing the Spurs to look shaky all over the floor, and a barrage of second-half 3-pointers.
The often-maligned Chalmers is frequently found in Heat highlights being yelled at by James or another Miami veteran. But he has the big-moment plays to back up his bravado, from a tying shot for Kansas in the 2008 NCAA championship game to his 25 points in Game 4 of last year’s finals.
The Heat dropped Game 1 in last year’s finals, and the first two to Dallas in 2006 before going on to win both titles. But those early deficits came on the road, so Dwyane Wade said Sunday’s game was a “must-win game” for the Heat.
The point guard sparked the Heat late in the third, after San Antonio had taken a 62-61 lead. He converted two three-point plays, Allen and Mike Miller nailed 3-pointers, and James made only his third field goal of the game during a 14-3 finishing spurt that sent Miami to the fourth with a 75-65 advantage.
They opened the fourth with nine straight points to make it 84-65, and capped the run at 94-67 when James made a 3-pointer, erasing any chance of their first two-game losing streak in five months.
The Spurs had only four turnovers in Game 1, tying an NBA Finals record low. But they surpassed that total in the first quarter, Parker committing two of their five after not coughing it up once in the opener, and the Spurs looked more like the sloppy Indiana Pacers from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals than the Spurs of Game 1.
The unrecognizable play continued, Parker firing passes on the pick-and-roll right into a Heat player’s leg on multiple occasions and even getting yanked barely three minutes into the third quarter after his struggles continued.
The Spurs responded with seven straight points without him to get back within one. But by the end of the period, it was Chalmers who was the best point guard on the floor.
They arrived to white shirts hanging on the seats that read “Larry loves Miami” with a picture of the Larry O’Brien trophy that goes to the NBA champion.
Larry’s not leaving, not if the Heat keep playing like this.
They looked as good as ever in the final 15 minutes of their 100th game of the season, pouring it on and leaving Spurs coach Gregg Popovich often standing with his arms folded on the sideline, with no answers and no way of slowing down the Heat speedsters.
San Antonio had its seven-game postseason winning streak snapped, as well as a six-game NBA Finals win streak that dated to the 2005 finals.
Duncan, who started 0 of 5 in the opener before finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds, began 1 for 5 in this one. But he never got untracked, though part of the problem was the Spurs’ inability to get him the ball enough because of their turnovers.
Wade finished with 10 points and six assists. Miami committed just six turnovers.