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June 08, 2014

Finals G2: Heat 98, San Antonio 96: Miami evens series behind LeBron's 35!; plus Heat playoff MVP table (updated), raw vs. dumb honesty & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JUNE 8. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with (what else) Heat and NBA Finals. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Saturday Heat notes and 3-pack from San Antonio, California Chrome falls short, Crampgate poll result and more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

My World Cup preview: I columnize in today's Miami Herald World Cup preview section on how the U.S. standing in international soccer adds intrigue to the quadrennial event. America is seldom seen as the underdog in anything. Except this. Click on Us Against The World for the column. (Also, below find item on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann).

FINALS G2: HEAT 98, SAN ANTONIO 96: LEBRON ANSWERS HIS HATERS WITH 35: LeBron James' 35 points carried Miami tonight in the two-point win that evens the Finals 1-1. Most impressively he did it all ways in hitting 14 of 22 shots including three 3's. He pounded the paint with force, he hit oustide jumpers, he had 10 rebounds -- all of it three days after debilitating cramping erased him late from Game 1 and drew a barrage of mocking on Twitter and elsewhere. Call tonight his response. He had help, though. Chris Bosh had 18 and Dwyane Wade 14, and Rashard Lewis also added 14. Miami also was much better defensively, with the Spurs shooting only 44 percent after hitting 59% in Game 1. Now the Finals haed to Miami for Games 3 and 4 starting Tuesday. The three-peat dream wouldn't have died with a loss and a 2-0, but it felt like Sunday brought it back to life just the same. Click on The King Reigns for my column from San Antonio off tonight's Miami win. ..... Original post: Some final thoughts on Crampgate before we look ahead to tonight. The consensus seems to be that no, the Spurs did not "arrange" for the air-conditioning failure that caused the hot/humid arena that led to LeBron James' 1aa1aheatspursfinalscramping that played a part in the Heat's Game 1 loss. But the consensus is that the Spurs were alerted ahead of time, well before Miami, to better prepare for the conditions. And that the Spurs lockerroom had cooling fans while Miami's did not. If all of this is true, the NBA should fine and publicly admonish the host franchise. OK, moving on. Tonight's Game 2 should find Miami motivated both by how Game 1 ended, and by the LeBron-bashing on social media that followed. But the 1aa1aheatspursg2biggest motivation should be desperation. What a difference in outlook and prospects between leveling this series or heading back to Miami in a 2-0 hole. Miami is on a 12-0 run responding to a loss in the postseason, and that streak confronts its toughest test tonight. The air-conditioning will be back, we are assured, but LeBron being 100 percent is less knowable. Will his minutes be limited? Might the cramping recur? We'll see. Meantime the Heat must do better in other areas, such as defend in a way that San Antonio doesn't shoot close to 60 percent (58.8) again, and allow a Tim Duncan-led layup parade again. Miami, after losing the Finals opener 110-95, must find a way to hold the Spurs under 100 points. I'd expect to see doses of Udonis Haslem (who didn't play at all Thursday) as Miami strives to defend the paint better and narrow S.A.'s rebounding edge. All eyes will be on LeBron's post-cramps health, but the key will be much better defense.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Rashard Lewis. The updated standings through 17 playoff games, including tonight's Finals Game 2: LeBron James 40 points, Dwyane Wade 24, Chris Bosh 19, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 4, Chris Andersen 3, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

NBA commissioner on A.C. snafu: New commissioner Adam Silver, addressing the national media prior to Game 2 tonight, clearly was embarrassed by Thursday's air-conditioning outage in San Antonio. "I'm glad this isn't single-elimination," he said. And: "Certainly not one of my prouder moments." And: "In hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly." Silver said the NBA office was informed about the problem shortly after the game began, and was told just before halftime the issue could not be resolved that night.

RAW HONESTY: CALIFORNIA CHROME'S OWNER: It is so rare in sports and thus always refreshing when we see a reaction that is instant, visceral and raw. We got that yesterday from California Chrome's 

1aa1acoburnowner, Steve Coburn, after his horse had been denied the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes by a horse named Tonality. Coburn, pictured, railed against the format that allows a horse like Tonality to not run in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and then swoop in fresh against horses that run all three races. Coburn called that "the coward's way out." His reaction struck many as classless or sour grapes. He had a larger point that was valid: It would be a more level playing field if only horses that raced in the K-Derby could run in the next two races and be TC-eligible. But that probably was not the time or place for Coburn to rail against the rules.

DUMB HONESTY: JURGEN KLINSMANN: Team USA's World Cup coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, said in a New York Times profile, "We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at that level yet. Realistically, it 1aa1aklinsmannis not possible." He may be right. It still was an outrageously dumb, ill-timed thing to say publicly. The U.S. Soccer Federation should be furious. There would be a firestorm if soccer were bigger in this country. You can think that privately, Jurgen, you can say that to your wife, but to broadcast that on the eve of the World Cup is, well, imagine Joe Philbin saying at the start of training camp that the Dolphins are not at a level to compete for a Super Bowl. Klinsmann has cast a soggy blanket over any American enthusaism for this World Cup. There is also the element of self-fulfulling prophecy. Imagine being a player hearing your coach say that? Dumb, dumb.

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