Miami Heat take 2-1 lead in NBA Finals

11:33, Jun 18 2012
NBA Finals
LeBron James, the NBA regular season MVP, is marked by the regular season scoring champ Kevin Durant.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook takes a shot during the first half of game one of the NBA finals.
NBA Finals
Kendrick Perkins blocks the shot of the Heat's Udonis Haslem in game one.
NBA Finals
Russell Westbrook of the Thunder and Miami's Dwyane Wade battle for posession in game one.
NBA Finals
LeBron James finishes a first half dunk during game one.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade attempts to block the shot of Russell Westbrook in game one.
NBA Finals
Serge Ibaka dunks over Shane Battier in game one.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma City cheerleaders entertain the crowd in game one.
NBA Finals
Kevin Durant shows who's number one after the Thunder took game one of the NBA finals.
Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant pleads with the referee after a call.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade gets up-close with photographers after falling out of bounds.
Serge Ibaka
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka blocks the dunk attempt by LeBron James.
Oklahoma City Thunder fan
An Oklahoma City Thunder fan before tip-off.
LeBron James
LeBron James drives to the hoop against Kevin Durant during Game 2.
Chris Bosh
Miami's Chris Bosh dunks the ball as Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher and James Harden hit the floor.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade had 24 points in the Heat's 100-96 Game 2 win.
NBA Finals
Chris Bosh dunks the ball as Kevin Durant attempts the block during game three in Miami.
NBA Finals
Kevin Durant goes up for the dunk as LeBron James looks on.
NBA Finals
LeBron James looks to cut through the defence of Oklahoma's Kevin Durant and James Harden.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade goes for a reverse lay-up during game three.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade throws down a spectacular dunk during game three in Miami.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma's Serge Ibaka reacts to a time violation in game three.
American Airlines Arena
The Miami Heat's home floor at the American Airlines Arena before Game 4.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh dives for a loose ball in Game 4.
Erik Spoelstra
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during the second quarter.
Norris Cole
Back-up point guard Norris Cole protects the ball as he drives down the lane.
Serge Ibaka and Chris Bosh
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka tumbles over Chris Bosh chasing a loose ball.
James Harden
Oklahoma City's James Harden glides to the basket for a left-handed lay-in.
Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City dunks in front of LeBron James and James Jones.
LeBron James
LeBron James of the Miami Heat bumps off Russell Westbrook.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat small forward LeBron James stands before the start of Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, centre, dunks the ball as Miami Heat's LeBron James, lower right, and Shane Battier look on in the first half during Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder's Kendrick Perkins defends in Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James leaps to shoot as Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka, centre, defends during Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James drives to the net on Oklahoma City Thunder's Kendrick Perkins during the second quarter of Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, left, goes to the floor after he missed a shot under pressure from Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka, right, during Game 5.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade embrace after the clock hits zeros.
LeBron James
LeBron James celebrates his first NBA championship.
Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh roars at the crowd as confetti falls in Miami.
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh celebrate the Heat's NBA title.

Miami's dominance from the free-throw line proved strong enough to quell the Oklahoma City Thunder in a fierce fourth-quarter battle as the Heat claimed a 91-85 game three victory and a 2-1 series lead in the NBA finals.

The Heat outscored the Thunder 31-15 from the line, making all but four of their attempts as they cashed in on opportunities won with their relentless attacks on the rim, while Oklahoma City made just 15-of-24 from the charity stripe.

''This is competition at its highest,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters.

Udonis Haslem
THROWING IT DOWN: Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem dunks the ball in front of Nick Collison during Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

''We kept on mentioning that in the fourth quarter. That's what this is about. We're facing great competition. We showed some resolve there in the second half.''

LeBron James, who led the scoring with 29 bruising points, drained one of his two free throws with 16.2 seconds on the clock to give Miami a four-point lead.

After Oklahoma City defensive wizard Thabo Sefolosha threw away an inbounds pass, Dwyane Wade sank two more free throws to cap the victory.

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''That was a very intense playoff game,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. ''They made some plays down the stretch and we didn't.

''We led the league in free-throw shooting percentage, but we missed some tonight and turned the ball over in the second half too many times,'' he added in reference to Oklahoma City's seven turnovers after the intermission.

Oklahoma City built a 10-point lead in the third quarter crowned by a four-point play by veteran guard Derek Fisher, who was fouled as he sank a three-point shot in boosting the Thunder to a 64-54 lead after trailing 47-46 at the half.

Miami closed the gap with the help of back-to-back fouls by the Thunder on three-point shots that gave the Heat six free throws on their way to a 15-3 run to close the third quarter as Durant sat on the bench with four fouls.

ACTIVE DEFENCES

Both teams played ferocious defence down the stretch, and the Heat had to overcome eight turnovers in the fourth quarter to retain home-court advantage.

The next two games in the best-of-seven series are in Miami, giving the Eastern Conference champions a chance to claim the NBA crown with a pair of home victories.

James, the NBA's Most Valuable Player, said it was hard to get good shots as Miami's 37.8 per cent shooting attested.

''Both teams are very active defensively,'' he said. ''Both teams make it hard on one another to get shots.

''That's a great team we're going against, and defensively they have some very active players, so they kind of bring the double-team sometimes when I'm in the post or if I'm in the perimeter they kind of put two on the ball.

''I just try to take what the defence gives me, try to get into the paint.''

Miami surged to an 86-79 lead with just over two minutes to go but the Thunder hit back with six points in a row, turning game three into a cliffhanger at 86-85 with 90 seconds left.

Miami's Chris Bosh made a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game before James and Wade finished off Oklahoma City for good from the line after attacking the basket.

James shot 11-of-23 from the floor, doing virtually all his damage from inside, and hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Wade contributed 25 points for Miami, with Bosh the next highest for the Heat with 10.

Kevin Durant, who played with five fouls for the last 3:47, led Oklahoma City with 25 points and Russell Westbrook added 19.

''Tough loss,'' said three-time NBA scoring champion Durant. ''This is not over. It's not over.''

Game four of the championship series will be played on Wednesday (NZ time). 

Reuters