Derek Fisher was completing a four-point play. Kevin Durant was back on the court after foul trouble yet again had sidetracked and sidelined him. Homecourt advantage was in the balance, after it practically had been stolen three nights earlier, on a whistle that never sounded.
That's when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh waved everyone else aside in what would turn into a 91-85 Game 3 NBA Finals victory over the Thunder.
Oh, Shane Battier and James Jones had made their contributions minutes earlier when, on consecutive possessions, the Heat's limited 3-point specialists had drawn fouls on 3-point attempts and made all six of those free throws.
But now, with the game, and perhaps the series, in the balance, the Heat's Big Three knew they had to stand alone.
And they did.
Over the final 8 minutes, 10 seconds of play, they would be the only Heat players to score.
Because it had to be them. Because it has to be about the Big Three. Because of last year.
Throughout these playoffs, James, Wade, Bosh and particularly coach Erik Spoelstra have bristled at the notion that last season's epic Finals collapse against the Mavericks was driving this year's playoff push.
It was a different year, Spoelstra would say. It was a different motivation, was James' response. It wasn't at all the same, Wade had said. A new outlook, Bosh would offer.
Then came Sunday. And finally some candor.
Because in this type of situation a year ago, an egregious Wade fourth-quarter turnover with the game in the balance would have had the Heat teetering, deflated, defeated. Because a missed James free throw in the waning seconds would have created self-doubt. Because Bosh going the fourth quarter without a basket would have led to questions about softness and heart.
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
"Well, really, every day we remind ourselves, we think of that pain that we experienced last year," Bosh said late Sunday.
Because of that pain, the arrogance is gone, replaced by the type of resolve needed to overcome .378 shooting, nine fourth-quarter turnovers, the very stuff of those 2011 nightmares.
"And it really doesn't matter how you shoot the ball," Bosh said. "On defense, we have to play solid. We have to give them one shot. We have to get rebounds. Those are things that are effort plays, and you have to have the energy, and sometimes you're going to be tired.
"But it hurts a lot worse when you're not successful as opposed to, I guess, your lungs burning and your muscles burning from giving that extra effort. We carry that pain with us. We think about it every day, and that really helps us to succeed in this series."
The response came to a question about the Heat's stars taking control late, about not re-living the 2011 nightmare, but Bosh took it that extra step. Because it does resonate. And it does drive.
And it might as well have been Dirk Nowitzki attempting to rally the Thunder on Sunday night instead of Kevin Durant, because that's what the Heat are seeing.
Next to the interview room was James. And make no mistake, for him, this entire process from end of lockout to this moment has been about reclamation from the very disaster that was that Dallas series.
As a matter of perspective, in these first three games against Oklahoma City, James is just 16 points from his scoring total in those six games against Dallas.
"Just trying to make plays," was his initial shrug aside of the year-ago comparisons. "I told you guys, last year I didn't make enough game-changing plays, and that's what I kind of pride myself on. I didn't do that last year in the Finals. I'm just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key moments and be there for my teammates."
None was more game-changing than his bull rush of a driving layup with 3:47 to play and the Thunder within four. In the process he drew the fifth foul on Durant. The 3-point play put the Heat up 84-77.
From there, even after plays that were all too reminiscent of last season's Finals, this time Bosh losing the ball out of bounds with 2:50 left, Wade committing an egregious midcourt turnover as he did in Game 2, and James missing a jumper with 46 seconds to play in a three-point game, the Heat found a way.
The way they couldn’t find a year ago.
"Nothing is promised. You can't always say we have next year, because you never know what can happen," Wade exhaled after Sunday's finish. "Last year, I don't know, we experienced enough as a unit to deal with what came at us, and it showed. This year, no matter what's happening or no matter what happened, I feel like we're a more experienced team."
So they found a way.
"Last year we had leads in most games, and we let the leads go," Wade continued. "Tonight we were down 10, and we kept grinding and kept grinding until eventually we took the lead and were able to control the game."
Last year, the Heat also were up 2-1 in the Finals. They never won again.
They remember that feeling, having carried it for a year, planning to carry it into Tuesday's Game 4.
"It's not saying that we want it more," Wade said of the year-to-year measurement. "I just feel like we understand the situations more, we can deal with it better."
Win this year and they not only push past Durant and the Thunder, but also Nowitzki and the Mavericks, slate cleared, free to pursue any future championships with cleansed spirit.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.
PBT: LeBron James took over the 4th quarter, Ray Allen hit a huge three to force OT and the Heat survived to force a Game 7.
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