Chicago Sun-Times

Magnificent 7: LeBron outduels Durant in Game 2

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The seven players who made the biggest impact on Game 2 of the NBA Finals:

1. LeBron James, Heat

Pretty close to another fourth-quarter failure -- he had just two free throws in the first 10:30 as the Thunder closed to 94-91 -- James came through in the clutch, hitting a pullup 15-footer off the glass, defending Kevin Durant's baseline jumper with 10 seconds left and Russell Westbrooks rebound attempt, then hitting two free throws with seven seconds left to clinch it.

2. Kevin Durant, Thunder

Had another incredible fourth-quarter run - 16 points in the final nine minutes while playing with five fouls -- that was undone by a missed jumper that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left. Had a chance to force the issue on that play by driving the baseline to the basket, but pulled up for a jumper that missed. Despite his ultimate failure, he's still been the best player in this series.

3. Chris Bosh, Heat

Looked like a potential series-turning player with 16 points and 15 rebounds in his first start since suffering an abdominal injury in Game 2 against the Pacers. With LeBron-Durant and Dwayne Wade-Russell Westbrook a virtual wash, Bosh gives the Heat the edge it will need to win this series. Not only outplayed Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka inside, but his perimeter play gives the Heat a dimension the Thunder can't match.

4. Dwyane Wade, Heat

Silenced the critics who had the temerity to question how much he had left after substandard play over a five-game playoff stretch (39 percent shooting) with a productive, if unspectacular, performance. Wade scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting (no three-point attempts), with five assists. Made key plays in the fourth quarter, though he might have gotten away with a borderline charge against James Harden before feeding Chris Bosh for a dunk with 53 seconds to go.

5. Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Coach Scott Brooks is willing to live-and-die with the aggressiveness of his mercurial point guard and he's both lived and died by him in the first two games. Though Westbrook finished with nearly identical numbers to his Game 1 performance, Westbrook all but lost the game with a horrendous start that led to the Heat's 18-2 lead and had them playing catch up the entire night.

6. Shane Battier, Heat

Improved his chances of becoming only the second Mike Krzyzewski-era Duke product to win an NBA title (Danny Ferry won one as a bit player with the Spurs in 2003) with a second consecutive niche performance. Not only played excellent defense, but hit 5-of-7 three-pointers and finished with 17 points. In two games he's averaging 17 points and shooting 9-of-13 on three-pointers, including a bank shot from the top of the key in Game 2.

7. James Harden, Thunder

Uncanny shooting guard recovered from a brutal Game 1 performance by giving the Thunder the boost it needed after the horrendous start. He hit a three-pointer 49 seconds after entering the game and finished with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 34 minutes. Brooks probably wishes he had not waited until his team was down 16-2 to bring Harden in the game.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on June 15, 2012 1:25 PM.

Bulls to say bye, bye to Berto Center, move downtown was the previous entry in this blog.

Magnificent 7: LeBron outduels Durant in Game 3 is the next entry in this blog.

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