MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Heat clinched their second successive National Basketball (NBA) championship on Thursday, beating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in the decisive seventh game of an epic series.
Miami's LeBron James, the sport's biggest star playing at the peak of his powers, had a game-high 37 points and pulled in 12 rebounds in a dominant performance while Dwyane Wade had 23 points.
James shot 12-of-23 from the floor, including 5-of-10 three-pointers to lead Miami to their third NBA title and his second just two nights after the Heat's championship defense almost ended abruptly.
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San Antonio, chasing a fifth NBA title, were just seconds away from clinching the championship on Tuesday before Miami staged an extraordinary comeback to win in overtime and force a decisive seventh game.
The visitors made a great start on Thursday, opening up a seven-point lead in the first quarter and by three late in the third quarter but came up just short.
Tim Duncan scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Spurs while Kawhi Leonard had 19 in the winner-take-all clash that had whipped basketball fans into a frenzy of excitement during a wildly fluctuating series full of escalating drama.
Courtside tickets for Thursday's game were selling on the secondary market for up to $30,000 and the game lived up to the hype with both teams fiercely contesting every possession.
(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Frank Pingue)