Chris Bosh dusts off power game


SAN ANTONIO -- Chris Bosh had just walked away from the postgame podium, done explaining how he closed out Game 2 with a 3-pointer and a driving dish to Dwyane Wade, done explaining how he ignores criticism, done praising LeBron James for being unselfish in all scenarios.

And then Bosh admitted he, himself, was selfish on this night.

Asked if he was just looking for his shot a little bit on a night when he unleashed his entire repertoire in scoring 18 points for the second straight game, Bosh laughed and offered this in what sounded like a sarcastic tone:

"Yeah, I'm just looking for mine a little bit."

No, but seriously.


Oh. OK.

"Sometimes, in this offense, the coaches give me the freedom to be aggressive and make the right plays," Bosh said. "Coach told me, 'I like your aggressiveness. Keep being aggressive.' I was like, 'Aight.'

"You tell me once, you don't have to tell me anymore. So I just wanted to keep it up."

It wasn't just that Bosh scored 18 points, which would seem somewhat insignificant compared to the 35 LeBron poured in against the Spurs. It's the variety with which he attacked the San Antonio defense that made Bosh's performance so unique. And it was the timely finish that made it so memorable.

It had become a familiar sight, watching Bosh float around the perimeter, waiting for kick-out passes and allowing the Heat's offense to dictate when and where his shots would become available.

But in a game the Heat felt was crucial -- Miami had never fallen behind 0-2 to begin a series in the big three era -- Bosh had a flashback. He may as well have been wearing a Raptors uniform, given how unusual it was to have four of his first five baskets in the paint, including two monster finishes that even impressed LeBron.

"He had two dunks tonight that we haven't seen in a long time, man," James said. "When he has that mindset, he just mixes it up.

"He's the forgotten guy on our team. Shouldn't be. Obviously tonight, without his aggressiveness, we don't win."

Both of Bosh's dunks were of the and-1 variety. The first came late in a second quarter when the Heat trailed by as many as 11, and the finish was made extra satisfying because it was Tim Duncan who committed the foul.

The second came to start the fourth, this time with a recovering Tiago Splitter fouling Bosh, sending him to the floor.

If those finishes caught LeBron by surprise, they probably shocked the heck out of the Spurs. It's not often the Heat's stretch-5 takes it upon himself to break offensive plays and attack the basket.

If he has been saving those opportunities for just the right time, it's hard to find a better time than the NBA Finals, with your team down 0-1 in the series.

"Sometimes you just have to take it on yourself and break plays," Bosh said. "I think while the action is going on, that's good because there's not always help-side [defenders], or the help is occupied."

And those won't even be his most memorable plays in this Game 2.

No, those came later. Because everybody remembers the closer.

And Sunday, Bosh played the part.

He caught a pass from LeBron in the corner, with the Heat trailing by one, and drained a 3-pointer to give Miami a 95-93 lead with 1:01 left in the game.

And after LeBron split a pair of free throws and Manu Ginobili missed a 19-footer, Bosh sealed the win with a drive past Duncan and a dish under the basket to Wade for a layup that put Miami up five. (We'll just ignore that LeBron was trying to call a timeout during this action, because, well, the referees ignored it.)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra constantly finds himself defending Bosh to critics who want more of the obvious: points, rebounds, blocks.

Sunday night, he reiterated what he has been saying for four years, that Bosh is the team's most important player.

He also lauded him for being "stable" in the face of such criticism.

LeBron called Bosh something else: necessary.

"We needed it," James said. "We need it for the rest of the season, and I believe we're gonna get it from him."

Bosh called validating himself "a constant process," but added that he let go of that burden a long time ago.

He does find it especially gratifying, though, having performances like this one against Duncan.

"There's motivation in that," Bosh said. "I mean, he's Tim Duncan. He's the best power forward to ever play the game."

Oh, and those who believe Bosh's scoreless game in last year's Game 7 against San Antonio, and the ensuing ridicule tossed his way, bothers him at all, Bosh adamantly denies it.

"Nooo," he said. "Hell no. We won the game. I know a lot of people still mention that, but I don't care."

Then he actually offered a little secret about that Game 7.

"I knew I wasn't going to score midway through the third quarter," Bosh said. "People don't know, but I knew that.

"I think I tried to do something, and Dwyane wanted the iso, I was like, 'Well, all right. But I'm gonna play defense and rebound this basketball and get the hell out the way and do the best at it.'"

There's one way to avoid that from ever happening again: Just look for his a little bit more.