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James inspires Heat to another title
LeBron James scored 37 points as the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in front of their own fans to retain their NBA crown.
After a closely-fought series, it was the Heat who came out on top in game seven as they kept the Spurs at arm's length down the stretch, with James making a series of clutch plays.
James added 12 rebounds to his haul to earn the MVP award for the second straight year, while Dwayne Wade had 23 points and 10 boards and Shane Battier sunk six-three pointers off the bench for 18 points.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and 16 boards.
San Antonio, who lost game six in dramatic circumstances two days ago, appeared to have settled better as they established an 11-4 lead early on. By the end of the first quarter, though, Miami - roared on by a home crowd which included the likes of pop star Justin Bieber and footballer Didier Drogba - led 18-16.
From there, the Spurs always seemed to be clinging on to the Heat's coattails. In truth, neither side hit their stride until the second half, when the Heat repeatedly seemed set to pull away, but the Spurs kept coming back.
The chances came and went for San Antonio in the closing minutes. When Manu Ginobili sunk a three-pointer to cut the Miami lead to 85-82 with 4:21 remaining, Danny Green forced the turnover from a bad Wade pass and his own three-point attempt could have pulled the Spurs level.
He missed, though, and Miami immediately stretched their lead back to six courtesy of Battier's three-pointer. When, with 1:39 remaining, Mario Chalmers missed a pair of free-throw attempts, the impressive Leonard could not take advantage as he missed a three-pointer from out wide, which would have put the Spurs ahead by one.
With less than a minute to go, Duncan missed a hook shot and subsequent tip effort which would have levelled the scores - and that proved to be the final chance for the Spurs.
James sunk a jumper with 27.9 seconds remaining to stretch the lead to four points and there was no way back. When Wade hit a free throw with 16.3 seconds remaining to stretch the advantage to seven points, it was the biggest lead they had held all night.