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James fires Miami Heat to dramatic victory

Oakland, California: LeBron James capped one of his best games of the season in dramatic fashion, making a step-back 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to carry the Miami Heat past the Golden State Warriors 111-110 on Wednesday night and into the All-Star break on a high note.

With teammate Dwyane Wade scratched from the lineup with a sore left foot, James shouldered the load for the two-time defending NBA champions. He finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, saving his best moment for last.

After fellow All-Star Stephen Curry hit a bank shot to start a three-point play that put the Warriors ahead by two, James let the clock tick down on the other end. He swished a 27-footer over Andre Iguodala with two-tenths of a second left, then patted his chest and high-stepped on the sideline to leave the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 stunned and silent.

James shot 14 of 26 from the floor, including several dazzling dunks, and helped the Heat go ahead by 21 points in the third quarter. Chris Bosh added 19 points and five rebounds, and reserve Michael Beasley scored 16 points in a thrilling victory for the Heat, who played without Wade for the second straight night.

Curry finished with 29 points and seven assists, and David Lee had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who rallied to take an 87-84 lead early in the fourth quarter before the teams traded baskets late.

They just had no answer for the four-time NBA MVP.

After the Warriors went ahead early in the fourth, James converted a layup, a fadeway and a step-back jumper to start a run that put the Heat up 101-92 halfway through the quarter. Golden State scored the next eight points before Mario Chalmers connected on a corner 3-pointer for Miami.

Then Lee made 2 of 4 free throws over the next two possessions, and Iguodala lost the ball before gathering himself for an 18-foot fadeway with the shot clock about to expire, giving Golden State a 105-104 lead.

James answered with a 3-pointer over Klay Thompson, then Curry came back with a short jumper to tie the score again. James followed by splitting a pair of free throws.

As Lee came over to set a screen, Curry drove to his right and banked short jumper off the glass while getting fouled by Chalmers to start a three-point play with 14.6 seconds left to put the Warriors ahead 110-108 — seemingly for good.

James quickly changed that.

With one eye on the defence and another on the clock, he hit the contested 3-pointer over Iguodala to give Miami the win. At first, James just stared at the crowd, then he walked down court before breaking into celebration.

The shot capped a breathtaking performance by James when the Heat needed it most.

Wade also sat out Miami’s win Tuesday night at Phoenix with a migraine headache. He was listed at his usual shooting guard spot and announced during pregame introductions, but seconds before tipoff the Heat said he would not play because of a sore foot.

The Warriors, who were coming off a 123-80 rout of Philadelphia on Monday, were without centres Andrew Bogut (bruised left shoulder) and Jermaine O’Neal (sore right wrist). Lee started at centre and Draymond Green started at power forward.

But every time the Warriors started to take control, James simply looked unstoppable.

James soared for a thunderous reverse dunk, found Chalmers for a 3-pointer and set up Bosh for a dunk that started a three-point play to put the Heat ahead 75-54 in third quarter. He stood near the centre of the court and punched the air in an emphatic celebration, even drawing some cheers from Golden State’s fans.

The Warriors answered Miami’s run with a 33-9 spurt at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters – sparked by Harrison Barnes and capped by Curry’s streaky 3-point shooting — to take an 87-84 lead before James’ heroics.

Results

Dallas 81 INDIANA 73

Memphis 86 ORLANDO 81

TORONTO 104 Atlanta 83

San Antonio 104 BOSTON 92

BROOKLYN 105 Charlotte 89

Cleveland 93 DETROIT 89

Sacramento 106 NY KNICKS 101

HOUSTON 113 Washington 112

New Orleans 102 MILWAUKEE 98

MINNESOTA 117 Denver 90

UTAH 105 Philadelphia 100

Miami 111 GOLDEN STATE 110

LA CLIPPERS 122 Portland 117

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