Johnny Ludden

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Johnny Ludden is the NBA editor for Yahoo! Sports

  • No cramps, no problem: LeBron James leads Heat past Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals

    SAN ANTONIO – The air conditioning was blowing, LeBron James' muscles were firing and that was all the Miami Heat needed to even the 2014 NBA Finals. Well, that and a timely 3-pointer from Chris Bosh.

    James scored 35 points – 22 in the second half – and found Bosh in the right corner for a 3-pointer with 1:18 left to put the Heat ahead to stay in a 98-96 victory that squared the Finals at a game apiece on Sunday.

    The series shifts to Miami for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday night.

    "He has an incredible way to put his fingerprints on a game in a lot of different areas," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James.

    The two-time defending champion Heat once again showed their resilience, winning for an NBA-record 13th straight time following a loss in the playoffs. They haven't dropped consecutive games in the postseason since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

    LeBron James made 14 of 22 shots against the Spurs. (Getty Images)LeBron James made 14 of 22 shots against the Spurs. (Getty Images)With the AT&T Center's air conditioning repaired following the Game 1 malfunction that sent

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  • Arena's air conditioning expected to work for Game 2 of NBA Finals; if not, Heat want Spurs fined

    SAN ANTONIO – The AT&T Center announced Friday that air conditioning has been restored to the arena and should be functional for Sunday's Game 2 of the NBA Finals. And if it isn't working, the Miami Heat want the NBA to fine the San Antonio Spurs.

    The building lost its AC for Game 1 because of an electrical failure, sending temperatures near 90 degrees on the court and ultimately contributing to LeBron James having to spend the final minutes of the fourth quarter on the bench because of dehydration and cramps.

    "It was an extreme unfortunate situation for both teams," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday before Miami's practice. "It probably won't happen again, ever. Now, we might have to deal with the absolute opposite in Game [2], who knows. It will be 55 degrees in the arena, unless they don't get it fixed – which, if they don't, there should be a fine."

    The AT&T Center and the Spurs hope it doesn't come to that.

    Players weren't the only people hot during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (AP)Players weren't the only people hot during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (AP)"The electrical failure that caused the AC system outage during Game 1

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  • Gatorade apologizes after taking shot at LeBron James for cramping in NBA Finals

    SAN ANTONIO – After LeBron James was carried off the court with cramps in the critical closing minutes of the opener of the 2014 NBA Finals, he instantly became a target for critics. Not the least of which was the company that supplies the very product many athletes use to help fight dehydration:

    Gatorade.

    James is an endorser of competitor Powerade, and the people running Gatorade's official Twitter account took great pride in pointing out the distinction after James couldn't return to the game.

    And Gatorade continued trolling James…

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  • SAN ANTONIO – The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs officially returned to the NBA Finals on Thursday for a repeat performance of their epic seven-game series from a year ago. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were back. Same for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

    They were sweating more than usual, but they were back. The problem: No one, apparently, coaxed the AT&T Center's air conditioning into returning.

    Thanks to an electrical failure that shut down the arena's AC, the opener of the 2014 NBA Finals became a war of attrition. With temperatures near the court measuring above 90 degrees, James had to twice head to the bench in the final quarter because he was cramping. The Spurs took that as their cue to surge past the Heat for a 110-95 victory.

    Game 2 is Sunday, presumably to be played in a temperature-controlled climate.

    "I lost all the fluids that I was putting in in the last couple days out there on the floor," James told a pool reporter after the game. "It sucks

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  • LeBron James leads Heat to second straight NBA championship with Game 7 victory over Spurs


    MIAMI – Not one, not two… A little more than three years ago, LeBron James stood on that stage here, the smoke swirling about him, and made one of the most audacious declarations the NBA had ever heard. He had just joined with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the most star-powered triumvirate in the league, and now he was promising the Miami Heat fistfuls of titles.

    Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…

    Tim Duncan walks off the court while the Heat celebrate. (USA TODAY Sports)James crowed, and he was mocked fast and hard for the boast, for the spectacle of a welcome party the Heat had thrown for him, for his narcissistic "I'm-taking-my-talents-to-South-Beach" cable TV special. He hadn't won anything yet, of course. He just acted like he had, arriving here full of pompousness and entitlement, well on his way to becoming one of the sporting world's great villains.

    Somewhere in all that braggadocio, James' point was clear. He hadn't left his home state of Ohio to come to Miami to win a championship. He was here to build a dynasty,

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  • LeBron James, Ray Allen rally Heat to Game 7 of NBA Finals with wild win over Spurs

    MIAMI – LeBron James had drifted through much of Tuesday night. Confused, a little self-doubt perhaps starting to creep into him, he looked more like the shell-shocked, ineffective star who lost a season-ending Game 6 to the Dallas Mavericks here two years ago than the bold, cocksure leader who has dominated the NBA ever since.

    After losing Game 5 of these NBA Finals in San Antonio, James said he embraced the challenge of having to win consecutive games at home to claim his second straight championship. Only, the pressure, once again, appeared ready to swallow him whole, the enormity of the moment too big for him to grasp.

    LeBron James scored 18 of his 32 points against Tony Parker's Spurs after the third quarter. (AP)The San Antonio Spurs had worn on James, and as they hiked their lead deeper and deeper into the second half, the Miami Heat's championship reign moved that much closer to expiring.

    In the end, maybe that was all James needed to jolt him. His season, his legacy, at a crossroads, the NBA's best player finally took charge, rallying these Heat – with the help of a

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  • Manu Ginobili, Spurs push Heat to the brink, win NBA Finals Game 5

    SAN ANTONIO – For two days, Manu Ginobili had heard all the doubts, including possibly a few from within himself. He had labored in these NBA Finals. That much was true. Long one of the game's great clutch performers and an icon here in South Texas, he had played unsteady, looking every bit of his 35 years.

    This was not the Manu the San Antonio Spurs knew, and even some of them likely wondered: Was the magic gone? Were all those big-game moments Ginobili had delivered for much of the past decade just memories? Moments to be treasured and remembered, but no longer duplicated?

    Manu Ginobili totaled 24 points and 10 assists in the Spurs' Game 5 victory. (USA Today Sports)So, Ginobili stood there on the day before Game 5 of the Finals, surrounded by reporters, peppered by question after question, each of them implying the same. Are you done?

    Not yet, it appears.

    Ginobili dug deep once again, and when he was finished late Sunday, he had pushed the Spurs to a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat, pushed them to the brink of another NBA championship. Ignited by his first start in more

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  • Dwyane Wade, LeBron James combine for 65 points, Heat beat Spurs in NBA Finals Game 4

    SAN ANTONIO – For all the talk that the Miami Heat's championship reign rested squarely on the shoulders of LeBron James, that these NBA Finals would turn on how well or poorly the King played, Dwyane Wade knew the truth. If the Heat were going to beat the San Antonio Spurs, he would need to play better, too.

    Dwyane Wade hadn't scored 32 points since he had 32 against Minnesota on March 4. (AP)James wore his shooting shirt like a cape to the Heat's practice on Wednesday, making a show of his declaration to lead his teammates into Game 4. Turns out, Wade preferred to wait until tipoff to put on the real one.

    Looking like the Wade of old instead of Old Wade, he totaled 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals to lead the Heat to a 109-93 Game 4 victory over the Spurs Thursday night at the AT&T Center. The victory squares the series at 2-2 and assures the Finals will return to Miami for a sixth game, if not also a seventh. If the Spurs are going to dethrone the Heat, they will have to win at least once more on the Heat's court.

    For that, the Heat can thank Wade

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  • Team USA fights off Spain to win gold medal in Olympic rematch

    LONDON – Somewhere in the midst of their relaxing afternoon stroll to the gold medal, Team USA looked up and found themselves in a fight. Spain rained 3-pointers over the Americans' heads. Pau and Marc Gasol bullied the U.S. frontline. And after U.S. center Tyson Chandler became entangled with Sergio Rodriguez in the second quarter, the little Spanish point guard stepped up and jabbed his right index finger into Chandler's face.

    Rodriguez's message was clear: For all your NBA talent, for all your American dominance, you will not push us around.

    Yes, Team USA's gold-medal rematch with Spain proved nearly as difficult as their battle in Beijing four years ago. Just like in 2008, the Americans finally separated themselves from Spain in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, holding on for a 107-100 victory that gave them their second straight Olympic gold medal.

    [ Photos: Team USA fights off Spain for gold ]

    Mike Krzyzewski coached his final game for Team USA, joining Henry Iba

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  • Team USA advances to Olympic gold-medal game on Dwight Howard's day

    LeBron James goes up for a dunk over Carlos Delfino during the Men's Basketball semifinal (Getty Images)LeBron James goes up for a dunk over Carlos Delfino during the Men's Basketball semifinal (Getty Images)LONDON – Kobe Bryant and the United States will meet Pau Gasol and Spain for the Olympic gold medal, a historic rematch of the 2008 Beijing Games when Bryant helped Team USA hold off the Spaniards in a fierce, thrilling … wait … what? Oh. Never mind.

    Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers!

    London Games organizers still decided to play Friday's semifinal games for the Olympic men's basketball tournament, but all anyone wanted to talk about – the U.S. press, at least – was the titanic trade that sent Howard to the Lakers and potentially shifted the NBA's balance of power. Gasol helped rally Spain past Russia 67-59, and Bryant helped Team USA roll past Argentina 109-83 to deliver the gold-medal rematch, but that was a story for another day.

    Inquiring minds wanted to know what Bryant and Gasol thought of their new Lakers teammate. Gasol had barely stepped onto the court when he was hit with his first question about Howard. TNT's Craig Sager, working as a sideline reporter for NBC,

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