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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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James still appreciates Finals excitement

LeBron James should be used to the NBA Finals by now. After five trips to the championship series in eight years, it would make sense if he had a been-there, done-that attitude when stepping onto the sport’s biggest stage. He doesn’t. On Wednesday, James took a seat inside a makeshift interview area, sneaked a quick glance at the NBA Finals signage that was off to his left side, and beamed like a kid in a candy store. Just a couple of years removed from being ripped for not delivering in the moments that decide championships, James seems more comfortable in these surroundings than ever. “I’m blessed, man,” James said. “That’s all I can say.” James and the Miami Heat open these finals tonight ( 6, ABC) against the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA’s first championship-series rematch since 1998. – AP

Heat reach Finals for fourth straight time

The Miami Heat became the third franchise in NBA history to reach the title series in four consecutive seasons, eliminating the Indiana Pacers with a 117-92 romp in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Pacers stay alive with 93-90 Game 5 win over Heat

INDIANAPOLIS – Paul George scored 31 of his 37 points in the second half Wednesday night and almost single-handedly kept the Indiana Pacers alive in the Eastern Conference finals with a 93-90 victory over the Miami Heat. The Pacers trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 will be played Friday night in Miami.

Miami up 3-1, puts heat on Pacers

MIAMI – One win away. One win from their special June place. One win from becoming the first team to appear in four consecutive NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics did it in it from 1984 to 1987. Yes, work remains even after Monday night’s 102-90 victory over the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena that pushed the Miami Heat to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

Heat go up 3-1, put pressure on Pacers

One win away. One win from their special June place. One win from becoming the first team to appear in four consecutive NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics did it in it from 1984 to 1987.

Heat not even hot

LeBron James says the Miami Heat still have not played their best in the Eastern Conference finals. He also knows the Indiana Pacers would say the same. Such is the story going into Game 4 at Miami tonight ( 5:30, ESPN), with the Heat up 2-1 in the series. James and the Heat have been outplayed for long stretches of the first three games, yet still have the series lead after pulling off late comebacks in the last two matchups. Pacers coach Frank Vogel says it’s like a little brother having to learn how to beat a big brother, and his team knew exactly what he meant. Associated Press

Heat rally late, beat Pacers 99-87 in Game 3

MIAMI – Down by 15 early, the Miami Heat could have hit the panic button. Instead, they found a way to move within two wins of another trip to the NBA Finals.

Paul George expected to play, Heat thinking about Greg Oden

MIAMI – Indiana’s Paul George will play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers announced Friday that George has been cleared “to return to normal basketball activity,” a decision made three days after he was concussed in Game 2 of the Indiana-Miami series.

Heat ready to take on Nets

After a week of waiting, the Miami Heat finally know who’s next. It’s Brooklyn – a team that went 4-0 against the Heat in the regular season. The Heat practiced Sunday before the Nets went into Toronto and pulled off a Game 7 road win, topping the Raptors 104-103 to earn a date with Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 of Nets-Heat is Tuesday night in Miami. Miami hasn’t played since last Monday, when it finished off a four-game sweep of Charlotte in the opening round. LeBron James, however, pointed out that only two days have truly been “off” ones for the Heat and that they “definitely went after it” in practice. Associated Press

In brief – Miami sweeps Charlotte

NBA: LeBron James scored 31 points, and the Miami Heat completed a first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 victory Monday night in Charlotte, N.C. James scored 19 points after injuring his thigh in the third quarter. He finished the game 10 of 19 from the field and had nine assists.

Heat vow to take Bobcats seriously

Even as the two-time defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat say they aren’t overlooking any team heading into the playoffs. The Charlotte Bobcats haven’t beaten the Heat a single time since LeBron James changed addresses. But Miami isn’t expecting a cakewalk first-round series against them, either. Charlotte visits Miami in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference matchup today ( 12:30 p.m., ABC). Miami has lost only four of its last 23 games against the Bobcats, and is 15-0 in the series since James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade became teammates. But the Bobcats are 20-9 since the All-Star break. – Associated Press

After 3 months apart, Heat, Pacers to meet again

No one needs tell the Miami Heat the importance of grabbing No. 1 seeds. The Heat beat the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs in the final two rounds of last season’s playoffs by winning Game 7 at home, a perk that came after finishing with the league’s top overall seed. For Miami to get the top spot in the East again this season, a win at Indiana tonight ( 5, ESPN) might be paramount. Indiana has been atop the East since Nov. 4. A win tonight would put the Pacers three games up on Miami; a Heat victory would leave the teams tied in the loss column. Associated Press

In brief: Nuggets upset suddenly cold Heat

NBA: Kenneth Faried scored 24 points, Darrell Arthur led a big effort from Denver’s bench with 18, and the visiting Nuggets beat the suddenly reeling Miami Heat 111-107 on Friday night, handing the NBA champions their fifth loss in six games. Evan Fournier scored 14, Ty Lawson had 13 and JJ Hickson added 11 for the Nuggets. Denver’s reserves scored 57 points.

In brief: Thunder weather Heat in Miami

NBA: Kevin Durant remained sizzling with 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22 and the Oklahoma City Thunder roared back from an abysmal start to embarrass the Heat 112-95 on Wednesday night in Miami, erasing an 18-point deficit by outscoring the two-time defending champions by 43 points over a 33-minute span. The Thunder led by as many as 25, and shot 16 for 27 from 3-point range. Miami was 3 for 19 from beyond the 3-point line.

Heat’s Allen designs shirt for Black History Month

MIAMI – Ray Allen’s interests run much deeper than basketball. The Miami guard spent time with extremely ill children over the holidays, arranged a private after-hours tour of the Holocaust Museum in Washington for Heat teammates and staff earlier this week and is constantly trying to better himself off the floor.

James wins AP Male Athlete of the Year award

MIAMI – The only thing that keeps LeBron James up worrying at night is basketball, which simultaneously makes perfect sense and no sense. On one hand, he’s the game’s best player.

Heat beat Lakers 101-95 for 6th straight victory

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers missed having Kobe Bryant out on the court on Christmas Day. Same for LeBron James. Playing without its biggest star, Los Angeles stayed right with the Miami Heat for most of the day before slipping to a 101-95 loss against the defending NBA champions on Wednesday.

Miami throws parade

Chris Bosh held the NBA championship trophy, LeBron James stood atop a double-decker bus with a cigar in his mouth, and Chris Andersen flapped his arms in a nod to his “Birdman” moniker. The NBA champion Miami Heat were in quite a mood to party on Monday. Players, families, staff members and friends crammed buses, flatbed trucks and cars for the parade honoring the latest Heat championship, with the caravan snaking its way through downtown Miami before a huge crowd of fans. A crowd of up to 400,000 was expected on a hot, steamy morning where the heat index reached the mid-90s by 11 a.m. Several players sprayed fans with super-soaker squirt guns. – AP