Welcome to the Monday edition of Flagrant 2, the a.m. recap of the night in sports.
This morning, we’ve got a double-shot of the NBA Finals, as LeBron James answered the bell (and his critics), drank plenty of fluids and carried the Miami Heat to a win in Game 2. Oh, also, bat-tossing brawls, angry millionaires in cowboy hats and Rafa reigning in France. We know, it’s a lot to take in on a Monday morning.
LeBron James is Ice Cold.
It took LeBron James three quarters to heat up in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Game 2 was a different story.
James started 1-for-4 from the field with three turnovers, but then caught fire, hitting 11 of his next 13 shots, scoring a game-high 35 and leading the Miami Heat to a 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Quite the way to answer those crampy critics.
James played Game 2 like he had something to prove, scoring 11 in the second quarter to cut an 11-point Spurs lead, and personally erasing a 62-59 Spurs lead by scoring eight points in less than a minute during a 14-point third quarter. And unlike Game 1, when cramps forced him to the bench, James didn’t wilt in the fourth, finding Chris Bosh for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining.
“What happened on Thursday was Thursday,” James told reporters. “My whole focus was how I was going to try to help this team even this up and just try to make some plays.”
LeBron Sweltered, but the Spurs Squandered.
The Spurs had plenty of chances to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. They got out of the gates fast, leading 26-19 after the first quarter, and held a 78-77 advantage heading into the fourth. And despite James going off, San Antonio could have seized control midway through the final period, but stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan missed four-straight free throws, keeping their lead at two.
“LeBron with the ball did a pretty good job at his end and we had to be really perfect at the other end and we didn’t,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t take advantage of things. We made bad decisions.”
“LeBron made some great passes and guys made open shots,” Duncan added. “We had the same result in the first game. They kind of flipped it in this one.”
Duncan finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, his 157th career playoff double-double (a mark that ties him with Magic Johnson for the most all time). Parker had 21 and Manu Ginobili had 19 in the losing effort. And Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor, fouling out with only 9 points. If the Spurs stand a chance, he’ll need to be better.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Miami.
Bat-tossing brawl in Baltimore? Bat-tossing brawl in Baltimore. … Steve Coburn, eccentric coot (and co-owner of California Chrome) continued his scorched-earth campaign after his horse failed to win the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, on Saturday, claiming the winning horse, Tonalist, took “the coward’s way out” and making odd analogies about Baskin Robbins. His outrage is 30-Wonderful. … Rafael Nadal won his fifth-straight French Open (and ninth overall), defeating Novak Djokovic in four sets. He won a silver baguette or something.