The Heat were in a desperate spot, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade wouldn't let them lose, scoring 23 of Miami's final 25 points as the Heat pulled away for a Game 2 victory that ties the series at 1.
5 things to know
LeBron and Wade are pretty great
I wonder if regular citizens in superhero movies get bored. I imagine them flipping to Big Bang Theory when the news leads with Superman beating Zod, because, man, he's beaten Zod 33 times since February and WHY IS THIS NEWS.
Well, it's getting boring to write it, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade willed the Heat to victory in the fourth quarter.
Miami entered the fourth quarter down a point, and trailed by as much as four. Then LeBron James went on a personal 9-2 run, ended by a James steal that should've culminated in an easy layup. He bricked it, but Wade was there with the follow dunk, sparking a personal 8-3 run of his own. James and Wade combined for 22 of Miami's 25 fourth-quarter points -- Norris Cole drilled a three to make him the third Heat player with double-digits, with 11 points.
It's cliché as hell, of course. Indiana thrives on balance, with five starters in double-digits, while Miami thrives on having the best basketball player in the world and some pretty good friends of his. But it's also true. These guys are superheroes, and this is what superheroes do. -Rodger Sherman
Cleveland rocks ... again
The unexplained magic of the Cleveland Cavaliers continued its dominance of the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, as the franchise picked up its third No. 1 pick since LeBron's exit. If Cleveland keeps the pick, they'll have had five top-5 picks in four years -- one more than the vaunted Presti Plan earned Oklahoma City at the end of the last decade.
And this for a team that this season tried to win, but failed miserably. Little more could have gone wrong for the Cavaliers from October to April. Yet amazingly, May cures it all. Next up: finding a coach to turn this collection of prospects into a team.
Cleveland's divisional rival Detroit falls on the opposite end of the lottery luck spectrum. Despite being totally mediocre since 2010 -- one year before the Cavs fell off a cliff -- the Pistons haven't picked higher than No. 7. This year, the insult was even greater. Detroit was four games worse than Cleveland, but because the Cavaliers leaped ahead to the No. 1 pick, it pushed the Pistons down to No. 9 in the draft order ... which means they were forced to send their pick to Charlotte. The Pistons had included the pick in a salary cap move, but protected it in the top eight. So Cleveland's luck was directly responsible for Detroit's loss.
The lottery can truly be cruel. Just not for Cleveland. -Tom Ziller
Lance Lance revolution
Lance Stephenson did it all on Tuesday night. The young Pacers guard scored 25 points on his way to an impressive performance against the reigning two-time champion Miami Heat. But Stephenson's Game 2 makes me wonder: can you be a team killer if you don't actually win the game?
In Game 1, Stephenson's presence was overshadowed by Paul George. Nevertheless, his 17 points on 75 percent shooting, eight assists and four rebounds came in 41 minutes of play. Without him, the Pacers didn't stand a chance of beating Miami on their home floor, even as LeBron James failed to cover the pick-and-roll properly from the power forward position. In Game 2, Stephenson again proved essential, providing the strong spark the starters needed as George shot just 4-of-16 from the field.
Yet Stephenson's performance didn't lift Indiana to victory. He had a fire in his eye the whole game, and the Heat didn't really have an answer for him, relying instead on late-game heroics from James and Dwyane Wade to find separation in the final score. Indiana's bench scored just nine points, and George and David West shot a combined 9-of-32. Nothing Stephenson could do could fix that.
Indeed, he fourth-year guard is a special talent and had the killer instinct needed to win Game 2. It's too bad the rest of the Pacers didn't also bring theirs. -Dane Carbaugh
Miami's unsung heroes
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will get all the accolades, as they should. They scored 23 of Miami's final 25 points, after all. But Miami doesn't win Game 2 without contributions from two other key players.
Norris Cole and Chris Andersen were life savers, especially defensively. For all of Miami's double-teaming and trapping, the success of its defense depends on ball pressure. Cole was in everyone's face all night, whether he was guarding a point guard or Lance Stephenson, who he switched onto down the stretch to save James' energy. It sure helps that he hit both of his open threes, making Indiana pay for leaving him. Andersen was just as tenacious late on Roy Hibbert and was as good a defender on the back line as anyone.
It'll be interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra uses both players going forward. Each provides a major boost defensively, but Cole is not nearly as good a perimeter shooter as Mario Chalmers and Andersen, while better offensively than Udonis Haslem, is also limited. Indiana helped off both players to plug James' driving lanes, which frustrated him until the final push. Does Erik Spoelstra play both more minutes, hoping their defensive contributions hold up with extended minutes? It's an interesting question. -Mike Prada
A lottery for someone else
The sick beauty of the Knicks' crap season -- a collection of losses so clownish as to appear deliberate -- was that they had nothing to lose for. Their play had all the characteristics of tanking, but there was no treasure on their ocean floor. The lottery pick they would have earned had long since been sent away in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
So, for the fourth time in a decade, Knicks fans watched another team live out their lottery night. Some rooted for the likely odds, praying the pick (to be conveyed to Orlando or Denver) would fall in its slotted late-lottery position. Others hoped for the improbable: a top-three selection to further expose the habitually wild asset-bleeding of James Dolan's franchise. We all rooted for doom -- for the ping-pong ball machine to somehow explode and deny all the other losing fans the experience of a consolation prize Knicks fans so rarely enjoy.
Things went as expected. The Magic will pick 12th thanks to the Knicks' generosity, one of several traded picks from the top 14. Pelicans fans, too, had to watch another lottery pick head to the Sixers, which couldn't have been fun. Those poor Pistons, fans, though. At least the rest of us knew our sorry fates in advance. -Seth Rosenthal
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Finals, Game 2San Antonio leads 1-09 p.m. ET | TNT AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas