Heat win NBA title in five games

Friday, June 22, 2012
Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

LeBron James won his first championship with Miami's 121-106 rout of the Thunder

MIAMI -- The decision is final: LeBron James made the right call coming to Miami.

Finally an NBA champion, it's all worth it now.

James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, and got the kind of help that was worth leaving home for, leading the Heat in a 121-106 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night to win the NBA finals in five games.

Best player in the game. Best team in the league.

LeBron James approaches the the NBA championship trophy after Game 5 of the NBA finals Thursday in Miami. The Heat defeated the Thunder 121-106 to win the title. (Lynne Sladky ~ Associated Press)

James has found it all since taking his talents to South Beach.

"It means everything," James said moments after the win. "I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland, but I understood what my future was about. ... I knew we had a bright future [in Miami]. This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off."

He left the game along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for good with 3 minutes, 1 second remaining for a round of hugs and the start of a celebration he's been waiting for since arriving in the NBA out of high school as the No. 1 pick of the 2003 draft.

James hopped up and down in the final minutes, shared a long hug with opponent Kevin Durant, and watched the confetti rain down from the rafters.

The Heat took control in the second quarter, briefly lost it and blew it open again in the third behind their role players. James was content to pass to wide-open 3-point shooters while the Thunder focused all their attention on him.

Bosh and Wade, the other members of the Big Three who sat alongside James as he promised titles at his Miami welcoming party two summers ago, both had strong games. Bosh, who broke down in tears as the Heat left their own court after losing Game 6 last year, finished with 24 points and Wade scored 20. The Heat also got a huge boost from Mike Miller, who made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points.

Miller He made his fourth 3-pointer right before James' fast-break basket capped a 15-2 run that extended Miami's lead to 53-36 with 4:42 remaining in the first half. James had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists at halftime. The Heat led 59-49.

Durant added 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who made a remarkably early trip to the NBA finals just three years after starting 3-29. With Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden all 23 or younger, the Thunder have the pieces in place for a lengthy stay atop the Western Conference.

But their inexperience showed in this series, a few questionable decisions, possessions and outright mistakes costing them in their franchise's first playoff appearance since Seattle lost to Chicago in 1996.

Westbrook scored 19 points but shot only 4 of 20, unable to come up with anything close to his 43-point outing in Game 4, and Harden finished a miserable series with 19 points.

Not that there was anything they could have done to stop James, anyway.

Appearing fully over the cramps that forced him to sit out the end of Game 4, he was back to his dominant self, a combination of strength and speed that is practically unmatched in the game -- and rarely seen in the history of it.

Wade skipped to each side of the court before the opening tip with arms up to pump up the fans, then James showed them nothing wrong with his legs, throwing down an emphatic fast-break dunk to open the scoring. He made consecutive baskets while being fouled, showing no expression after the second, as if he'd hardly even known he was hit. Drawing so much attention from the Thunder, he started finding his wide-open shooters, and the Heat built a nine-point lead before going to the second up 31-26.

Oklahoma City got back within five early in the third before consecutive 3-pointers by Chalmers and Battier triggered a 27-7 burst that made it 88-63 on another 3-pointer by Miller. James didn't even score in the run until it was almost over, hitting a pair of free throws after he was flagrantly fouled by Derek Fisher while powering toward the basket.

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