Video: Heat’s LeBron James blocks Spurs’ Tiago Splitter on dunk attempt
Heat forward LeBron James rose high to block Spurs center Tiago Splitter on a dunk attempt at the rim during the fourth quarter of Miami’s 103-84 defeat of San Antonio in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.
“Basically, I told myself, you’ll end up on SportsCenter one way or another, either getting dunked on going to get a block,” James said. “Luckily I was on the good side of the Top 10.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra singled out James’ selflessness on the play, what with the looming possibility of a YouTube posterization.
“A lot of players wouldn’t go for that,” he said. “[There's] the possibility of getting dunked on and being on a highlight film. He’s been on that highlight film both ways. It takes great courage to go up and make one of those plays.”
With a little more than eight minutes remaining in the fourth and Miami leading 86-67, James darted over from the right baseline, leaving Kawhi Leonard to meet a driving Splitter right in the middle of the paint. Splitter attempted a right-handed slam over the top but James rose and capped the shot with his right hand, knocking the ball free and allowing Chris Bosh to recover it for Miami. James celebrated the play with a flex, a chest pound and a scream.
“I was, I guess, the last line of defense,” James continued. “I just pride myself on that side of the floor.”
This was the definition of a bang-bang sequence, as Splitter didn’t hesitate in attacking the rim at full force after diving to the hoop from the free throw line as he received a pass from Tony Parker. James’ quick burst from the weakside put him in great position to make the play, and there wasn’t much question he would win the hangtime battle against Splitter.
“He blocked it,” Heat guard Mario Chalmers said. “I mean, we seen that coming. I know I kind of figured he was going to block that one, just the angle he had. That’s why he’s First-Team All-Defense.”
The Heat used a 15-0 second-half run to blow open Game 2. James started slowly in the first half, scoring just four points by halftime, but his fingerprints were all over Miami’s strong second-half performance. The Heat scored eight straight points after James’ block on Splitter, pushing their lead to an insurmountable 27 points.
“Just wanted to make an impact some way,” James said, after scoring 17 points (on 7-for-17 shooting) and tallying eight rebounds and seven assists. “Offensively, it was a struggle for me. Couldn’t make a shot, missed layups.”
The rejection of Splitter was James’ second big-time defensive highlight of the night, as he got his fingertips on a Tim Duncan shot in the first half, too.
James also had a massive block of Pacers guard George Hill during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Spurs defeated the Heat 92-88 in Game 1 on Thursday. The series shifts to San Antonio’s AT&T Center for Game 3 on Tuesday.