SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- LeBron James scored 33 points while playing with the aggression and ferocity that everyone expects of the four-time MVP, leading the Miami Heat to a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night that evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece.
James also had 11 rebounds and four assists and finally got some much-needed help from his struggling All-Star teammates. Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds and the defending champions made sure the series will head back to South Beach.
Tony Parker had 15 points and nine assists while playing through a sore right hamstring for the Spurs, who were trying to move one step closer to their fifth championship.
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday night in San Antonio.
Ray Allen scored 14 points for the Heat. Miami had 50 points in the paint after managing 32 in a 36-point loss in Game 3.
Tim Duncan scored 20 points, and Kawhi Leonard added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Spurs, who turned the ball over 19 times. After setting a finals record with 16 3-pointers in Game 3, San Antonio was 8 for 16.
James was an abysmal 7 for 21 for 15 points in Game 3, and he promised to be better in Game 4. He delivered on that the only way he knows how, hitting 15 of 25 shots and putting the team on his shoulders to set the tone early.
Every time James snatched a Spurs miss off the glass he thundered up the court, attacking the back-pedaling defense for easy layups that simply haven't been there for him this series.
He made six of his first seven shots, controlling the tempo and responding when the Spurs threatened to run away with the game in the first six minutes.
Parker strained his right hamstring during Game 3, leaving many in San Antonio to fear that the big step forward they made with their win in Game 3 came at a hefty price. But Parker deemed himself "ready to go" at the team's morning shootaround and looked fine, save for a quick trip to the locker room in the fourth quarter.
All the old Parker tricks were there in the first quarter - a pull-up jumper to open the game, a driving layup and then another off the pick-and-roll. Leonard then buried a 3-pointer to give the Spurs a 15-5 lead early in the game.
Then James made the move the Heat have been waiting for all series.
He took the ball coast-to-coast on two straight possessions during run that tied it at 19. James then hit two mid-range jumpers - an area that has been a struggle for him - to cap the 14-2 surge and give Miami a 25-21 lead.
In an unusual move, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to shuffle the starting lineup in the middle of a series. He inserted the sharp-shooting Mike Miller for big man Udonis Haslem in an effort to create more room for James and Wade to penetrate to the rim.
Miller was 9 for 10 on 3-pointers in his first three games of the finals, but was scoreless in the game.
Wade was averaging 2.7 points in the second half in the finals, but had eight in the third quarter of Game 4.
Wade then finished off the Spurs with a flurry of eight straight Heat points followed by an assist to Bosh for a 94-83 lead with seven minutes to play. The Heat's Big Three scored all but three points for Miami in the fourth.
If there was a common theme in the first three games, it was the curiously meek performance from James. He entered this series after perhaps the best season of his career, a versatile and efficient freight train that had taken the league and made it his own.
He was out to show just how far he'd come from 2007, when the Spurs dismantled his Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals and exposed the rising star as a player who could be neutralized if he was forced to settle for jump shots. James promised that he would not be so easily contained this time around, and .565 shooting percentage during the regular season, including .406 on 3-pointers, seemed to support that theory.
But the Spurs had done to him in these finals exactly what they did to him six years ago. They've clogged the paint with two big men - Duncan and Tiago Splitter - and surrounded him on the perimeter with a pack of hungry young wings led by Leonard and Green.
The results had been unlike anything the league has grown used to seeing from its biggest star. James entered Game 4 averaged 16.7 points on 38.9 percent shooting. He was just 3 for 13 from 3-point range in the first three games, and even more startling, only had six free throw attempts.
"I'm putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team," James said. "That's the way it is."
It would be hard to find much higher stakes than Game 4 for the Heat. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Adam Wainwright became the major leagues' first 10-game winner by pitching seven scoreless innings and sent Matt Harvey to his first loss of the season, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the New York Mets 2-1 Thursday in a classic pitching matchup.
Wainwright (10-3) retired his first 11 batters before David Wright's single, and allowed four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Wainwright matched his career best by winning his fifth straight start, dropped his ERA to 2.18 and got his 1,000th career strikeout when Wright was called out on a first-inning curveball.
Known best in New York for freezing Carlos Beltran with a called third strike to end Game 7 of the 2006 NL championship series, Wainwright had been 0-4 with an 8.46 ERA in four starts against the Mets since beating them on April 18, 2010.
Trevor Rosenthal pitched the eighth, and Edward Mujica allowed a long home run to Marlon Byrd with one out in the ninth. John Buck then doubled and took third as Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded to second baseman Matt Carpenter, who made a diving backhand stop as he fell and threw to first for the out.
Josh Satin, who had his first big league at-bat of the season a night earlier, fouled off two full-count pitches and then swung over a splitter as Mujica remained perfect in 19 save chances.
Harvey (5-1) had been unbeaten in 14 starts since Sept. 12 and he pitched well enough to win, giving up one run and five hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
St. Louis scored its only run off him in the third, when Pete Kozma hit a one-out, opposite-field single to right for the first hit of the game and Carpenter tripled past Byrd, who tried for a sprawling catch in right but allowed the ball to bounce past him.
New York's bullpen gave up a run in the eighth, when Carpenter and Beltran singled off Scott Rice, and Matt Holliday and Allen Craig singled against LaTroy Hawkins. Craig's RBI was his 49th of the season.
Craig made a diving stop at first base in the bottom half to rob Omar Quintanilla of a hit, just before Wright singled for his third hit.
Harvey, who lowered his ERA to 2.04, had no-decisions in eight of previous nine starts, and the Mets have scored just 18 runs while he's been in the game during his last 10 outings, according to STATS. He opened impressively, striking out Beltran for the second out of the game with three 97 mph fastballs. He shook off a second-inning comebacker by Yadier Molina that struck him on the left foot.
His next scheduled start is Tuesday's day-night doubleheader, when right-hander Zack Wheeler is to make his major league debut for the Mets. The highly touted Wheeler was making his last minor league outing for Triple-A Las Vegas against Tacoma later Thursday.
Under dark skies and with heavy rain forecast, an announced crowd of 25,471 that seemed much smaller watched the Mets lose for the eighth time in 10 games following a five-game winning streak. The Cardinals took two of three in the series and improved the big leagues' best record to 43-23.
Wainwright was perfect before Wright dumped a 2-2 curveball into center field for a single, a pitch after first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt gave the Mets captain the call on a checked swing - Wainwright had started to walk off the mound, anticipating strike three.
Daniel Murphy took four straight balls, just Wainwright's eighth walk of the season, and Lucas Duda flied out to John Jay a step in front of the fence in right-center. Jay also made a nice grab to catch a wind-blown drive by Jordany Valdespin leading off the sixth.
Byrd singled with one out in the seventh and advanced on Buck's grounder to give the Mets a runner past first for just the second time. Nieuwenhuis, in an 0-for-19 slide, was intentionally walked to bring up Harvey's spot in the batting order, and pinch-hitter Justin Turner grounded out on a slow roller to third baseman Daniel Descalso.
Kozma, who had three hits, doubled with one out in the fifth when he popped the ball into short center. Nieuwenhuis sprinted in and tried for a sliding catch, but cut short his slide when Valdespin ran out from second and peeled off late just in front of him. Harvey then induced consecutive groundouts.
NOTES: The Mets started the same lineup and batting order from Nos. 1-8 in three straight games for the first time since April 23-26, 2011, STATS said.
CHICAGO (AP) -- Andrew Shaw scored on a deflection in triple overtime to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in a riveting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night.
Michael Roszival shot the puck from the right point into traffic. It deflected off Dave Bolland and Shaw before slipping past Tuukka Rask. Boston's Kaspars Daugavins had a huge opportunity midway through the third overtime but his backhand shot in the crease went wide after Johnny Oduya got a stick on him.
All of this came after Jaromir Jagr nearly won it for Boston in the closing seconds of the second OT when the puck deflected off him and hit the post, preserving the tie.
The Bruins were on a power play after Chicago got called for too many men on the ice with 52.8 seconds left in the second OT.
Zdeno Chara's shot from the right point hit Jagr in the slot and deflected off the right post, then bounded through the crease in the waning seconds.
With Original Six franchises playing for a championship for the first time in 34 years, the series is off to a rousing start.
The Blackhawks got third-period goals from Dave Bolland and Oduya to erase a 3-1 deficit. Corey Crawford was simply spectacular in the extra period, and the Blackhawks wound up going to double OT for the second straight game after taking out the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals.
Crawford made a sprawled-out pad save on Shawn Thornton about four minutes into OT, and he stood his ground in a flurry with just under eight minutes remaining, stopping Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin on the rebound to draw oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
In the second overtime, Patrick Kane had a chance to win it. But he fired wide left off the end of his blade from the edge of the crease seven minutes into the period.
Chicago's Michael Frolik just missed high and wide with 6:30 remaining, and Shaw's stuff-in attempt with 3:51 left got stuffed by Rask.
The Bruins appeared to be in good shape building a 3-1 lead in regulation, with Milan Lucic scoring twice and Patrice Bergeron adding a power-play goal just over six minutes into the third. But the Blackhawks came storming back after that.
Shaw picked off a clearing attempt by Torey Krug and fed Bolland on a two-on-one rush to pull Chicago within one with 12 minutes left in regulation. Lucic then got stopped on a two-on-one by Crawford midway through the third, and Oduya tied it for Chicago when his shot from the point deflected off Andrew Ference and bounced past Rask.
Just like that, the Blackhawks were back in it. Crawford fought off a big flurry by Boston in the closing minutes, and the game went to overtime with Chicago outshooting Boston 39-25 after getting off to a slow start.
The Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 13:11 mark of the opening period after David Krejci knocked Niklas Hjalmarsson off the puck along the boards behind the net. He fed a pass to Nathan Horton, who feathered the puck across to Lucic for an easy wrist shot from the slot in front of Crawford.
Lucic struck again just 51 seconds into the second period with another wrist shot after Hjalmarsson gambled along the boards and fell, allowing Boston to break in.
Chicago started to come on strong after that.
The Blackhawks got on the board just over two minutes later when rookie Brandon Saad scored his first goal of the playoffs. He carried the puck down the ice but was bumped off it in the left corner of the Boston zone. Marian Hossa recovered it and fed Saad in the slot, making it 2-1 and bringing the sellout crowd to their feet.
The Blackhawks' momentum came screeching to a halt on a power play - make that a two-man advantage - midway through the second. A big issue during the regular season, it continues to haunt the Blackhawks in the playoffs.
They came in 7 for 51 on the power play - 12th among the 16 playoff teams - and that number took another hit when they couldn't convert a five-on three advantage, Horton got called for interference at 7:37 and the Bruins were whistled for having too many men on the ice at 8:20, but Chicago came away empty.
Before Saad's tally, Rask had not given up a goal in 149:36 - he gave up only two goals in a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh - and he saved 54 shots through the first two OTs for the Bruins, who are seeking their second title in three years.
Crawford made 44 stops through the first two overtimes for the Blackhawks, back in the finals for the first time since their championship run three years ago, didn't get much going in this one.
Not since the Montreal Canadiens knocked off the New York Rangers in five games in 1979 had Original Six teams played for the championship. But both these teams have been here, done that, with Chicago winning it all in 2010 and Boston taking the championship the following season.
For the Blackhawks, it was a long climb back.
The buzzer had barely stopped ringing after Kane scored the winning goal against Philadelphia to end a 49-year championship drought when the bulldozer hit Chicago. Salary cap issues forced the Blackhawks to part with a long line of supporting players, and the result was back-to-back first-round playoff losses.
But things sure came together this year. From a 24-game points streak to start to capturing the Presidents' Trophy at the end, no team dominated like Chicago during the regular season. In the playoffs, things haven't been as easy. The Blackhawks took out Minnesota in five games, but had to rally to beat Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals.
They won that one in seven games and didn't blink facing arguably the league's hottest goalie in the conference finals. Instead, they took out Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings, winning Game 5 in overtime on Kane's third goal of the game to get to this point.
The Bruins, meanwhile, nearly got eliminated in the first round but have been on a roll ever since.
It's a big reversal after they blew a 3-1 series lead in Round 1 against Toronto and fell behind by three in the seventh game.
Then they did something no other team had done. They became the first team in league history to take a Game 7 after trailing by three in the third, with Patrice Bergeron scoring the tying and winning goals. Since then, they've made it look easier.
They beat the New York Rangers in five games and swept Pittsburgh, never trailing and allowing just two goals in the series while keeping former MVPs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin without a point.
Now, here they are, the physical Bruins going against high-flying Blackhawks. Both teams came in with hot goalies, with Rask posting a league playoff-high .943 save percentage for Boston and Crawford not far behind at .935.
A big question for the Blackhawks was how they would get around the 6-foot-9 Chara. Coach Joel Quenneville decided to split up Jonathan Toews and Kane and keep one of his biggest stars away from the big defender, after they played on the same line for the last part of the Los Angeles series.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tony Parker, along with all of San Antonio, really, spent a restless night worrying about a gimpy right hamstring that hampered him in Game 3 of the NBA Finals and threatened the momentum the Spurs seized with a drubbing of the Miami Heat.
A day later, Parker said he got some good news. Just how good the news is likely won't be known until Game 4 begins on Thursday night.
Parker had an MRI on Wednesday that revealed a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring, the mildest level of strain. He's listed as day to day.
"I was just hoping it was not a tear," Parker said. "The good news is it's not a tear or a defect. So that's the good news. Now I just have to see how I feel tomorrow."
Parker was injured early in the second half of Game 3, which the Spurs won 113-77 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. He was limited to six points and eight assists in 27 minutes and left the game early in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided.
Parker did not participate in the portion of practice on Wednesday that was open to the media, instead watching his teammates go through a light workout while spending much of the time in conversation with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
"We'll see how it goes tomorrow. We'll talk with Pop," Parker said. "I know Pop is always going to prefer to take low risk."
When asked about Parker's outlook, Popovich said, "a lot of it will be what he feels, I think."
Parker's injury somewhat muted the celebration in San Antonio following the Spurs' decisive bounce-back victory that put them two wins shy of the franchise's fifth championship.
While the Spurs' role players have been playing incredibly well in these finals, they know they will need Parker's leadership, guts and unparalleled mastery of the pick-and-roll to bury LeBron James and the Heat. Danny Green, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard have been revelations so far in this series, scoring the same number of points (130) through the first three games that the Heat's vaunted trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have managed.
Neal filled in brilliantly for a slowed-down Parker on Tuesday night, scoring 24 points and hitting six 3-pointers to pick up the slack. The Spurs have two more games at home - on Thursday and then Game 5 on Sunday - to try to close out the Heat and avoid having to head back to Miami.
"A lot of the Miami defense is focusing on me and my teammates are taking advantage of it," Parker said. "They're playing great and hopefully they can keep it going."
Still, it feels like a long way to go, because Parker is the engine that keeps this precision machine humming. He entered his fourth NBA Finals at the height of his powers, asserting himself as the best point guard in the game by carrying the Spurs into the showdown with Miami. After scoring 21 points and dishing out six assists in San Antonio's Game 1 win, Parker was averaging 22.9 points and 7.1 assists this playoffs, the best numbers of his career for a postseason that included more than one series.
He scored 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting in their Game 2 loss and was just 2 for 5 on Tuesday night.
As important as his scoring and distributing have been for the Spurs, the confidence he instills with his steady hand on the throttle may be even bigger. The Spurs aren't big on swagger, but they play with a different demeanor when he's on the court slicing and dicing opposing defenses.
"He does a lot for us," Neal said. "If he's not scoring, he's drawing the defense and being a facilitator. He has a great basketball I.Q. He brings a certain amount of confidence and toughness to our team. We definitely need Tony on the floor."
If Parker has to miss Game 4, it no doubt would inject some life into a Heat team that was dazed and staggered in Game 3. A club that won 66 games in the regular season, including 27 straight at one point, and entered the playoffs as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champions found itself down by 37 points at one point in the loss.
Without Parker on the floor Thursday night, things would be different.
"He is the head of their snake," Heat guard Mario Chalmers said. "I feel like that. The whole team feels like that."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra brushed aside a question about Parker's availability, clearly more disappointed and concerned about his own team's performance in Game 3 than anything happening with the Spurs.
"If we bring the level of effort and focus that we did last night it doesn't matter who plays," Spoelstra said. "We're hoping he plays. We want both teams to be healthy. We don't want any excuses and they don't want any excuses either."
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- From big 3s to Big Three, the Spurs had it all in the NBA Finals' raucous return to San Antonio.
Danny Green made seven of the Spurs' finals-record 16 3-pointers, Tim Duncan has 12 points and 14 rebounds, and the Spurs clobbered the Miami Heat 113-77 on Tuesday night to take 2-1 lead in the series.
Green scored 27 points and Gary Neal made six 3-pointer while scoring 24 as San Antonio went 16 of 32 from behind the arc.
Duncan bounced back from his worst game ever in the finals, and the Spurs' combination of fresh faces and old reliables in a raucous return to a city that hadn't hosted a finals game since 1997.
The Spurs were as good as fans remembered in the old days, shutting down LeBron James until they had built a huge lead late in the third quarter.
James finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but missed 11 of his first 13 shots against the excellent defense of Kawhi Leonard, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 4 is Thursday here, where the Heat are 3-22 in the regular season and so far zero wins and one really bad beating in the postseason.
Duncan shot 3 of 13 for nine points, his worst performance ever in his 25 NBA Finals games, in the Heat's 103-84 victory Sunday. Tony Parker wasn't much better, shooting 5 of 14 and committing five turnovers, and Manu Ginobili admitted afterward the veteran trio had to play well for the Spurs to win.
They were fine, but the lesser-knowns were better.
Parker and Ginobili combined for 14 assists, but the bigger story was the guys who had never played on this stage before.
- Neal, who went undrafted after playing for LaSalle and Towson, then playing overseas for three seasons in Italy, Spain and Turkey.
-Green, who had been cut multiple times - including by James' Cavaliers - and now has the shot to stick.
-Leonard, the draft-night trade acquisition from San Diego State who played the NBA's four-time MVP to a stalemate.
Mike Miller made all five 3-pointers and scored 15 points for the Heat, who broke open Sunday's game and seized momentum in the series with a 33-5 run in the second half.
The Spurs seized it right back, improving to 18-7 in the finals, the best winning percentage of any team with 20 or more games.
A brief flurry by James had Miami within 15 after three quarters, but Neal, Green and Leonard combined on a 13-0 run to open the fourth, Green's 3-pointer making it 91-63.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Michael Wacha recovered from a wild start to earn his first major league win and Allen Craig hit a three-run homer for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 9-2 victory over the staggering New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Matt Holliday had three hits and the NL Central leaders took full advantage of a crucial error by new Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy, who was shifted over from second after slumping Ike Davis got demoted to the minors Sunday.
David Freese extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games, longest in the National League this season, and Wacha (1-0) even knocked in a run with a groundout for his first RBI.
Omar Quintanilla homered for the Mets, who gave up seven unearned runs and lost for the seventh time in eight games since a season-best five-game winning streak that included a four-game sweep of the Subway Series against the New York Yankees.
Jeremy Hefner (1-6) had a 2-1 lead until St. Louis scored five unearned runs in the fifth inning, capped by Craig's fifth homer. The outburst began when Jon Jay reached on a leadoff grounder to Murphy, who knocked it down on his backhand but rushed a high, off-balance throw to Hefner covering first.
Pete Kozma doubled and Hefner slammed down the rosin bag at the back of the mound after Wacha's grounder to shortstop tied the score. Matt Carpenter walked, Yadier Molina put the Cardinals ahead with an RBI groundout and Holliday reached on an infield single before Craig drove an 0-1 pitch to left-center for a 6-2 advantage.
At his best in clutch situations, Craig came in batting .400 with runners in scoring position - the same average he had last year.
St. Louis, which owns baseball's best record at 42-22, added two in the seventh after Kirk Nieuwenhuis misplayed a deep fly to right for an error. Holliday had an RBI single and reliever Josh Edgin, just recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, walked Jay with the bases loaded to force in another run.
Shane Robinson, who replaced Craig in right field for defense, homered in the ninth off David Aardsma to make it 9-2. Craig made a painful-looking catch in the third when he fell at the base of the wall in front of the 375-foot sign, where his neck and the back of his head snapped back and hit the fence.
Wacha, drafted 19th overall a year ago out of Texas A&M, was making his third major league start after an impressive outing against Kansas City and a shaky one against Arizona.
Pitching on the road for the first time, he gave up a home run to his second batter and walked three in a 37-pitch first inning. Marlon Byrd had a sacrifice fly and the bases were loaded when Nieuwenhuis hit a grounder up the middle that appeared headed for center field and a two-run single that would have given New York a 4-0 lead.
Kozma, however, was positioned perfectly at shortstop and made a nice play to end the inning.
It was the sort of play that often goes unnoticed, but it stopped the Mets in their tracks. The 21-year-old Wacha did not walk another batter and yielded five hits over six solid innings before Randy Choate and Keith Butler finished up.
New York did not manage a hit after Jordany Valdespin's leadoff single in the fifth. With Davis sent down, Valdespin is getting an opportunity to play regularly at second base, his natural position.
NOTES: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran, a former Mets star, was rested to give him consecutive days off. The team was off Monday and Beltran traveled home to attend commencement ceremonies for the first graduating class of his Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. "We're happy that he was able to make that happen, and the Cardinals really tried to help out," manager Mike Matheny said. "It was a lot of travel. What he's doing down there is good for the game, good for the community." ... Matheny said RHP Jake Westbrook (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Friday night in Miami. ... Mets RHP Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.10 ERA) threw his bullpen session and is on target to make his next scheduled start in the series finale Thursday afternoon against RHP Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.34). Harvey left Saturday's start after seven effective innings with tightness in his lower back.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Cleveland Indians two-time All-Star closer Chris Perez and his wife pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor possession charges after marijuana was mailed to their home in their dog's name.
The pleas were sent by fax to suburban Rocky River Municipal Court by their attorneys.
The faxed pleas included a request that a requirement that the couple appear in person for a June 19 arraignment be dropped.
Police said they were tipped off by postal inspectors to suspicious packages mailed to the Perez home and arranged a delivery last Tuesday under surveillance. Police say Melanie Perez accepted two packages.
Authorities say Melanie Perez, whose maiden name is Baum, told the undercover officer delivering the packages that they were intended for her dog, named Brody. The package was addressed to Brody Baum.
According to investigative reports, Perez told drug agents with a search warrant that he had pot for personal use and pointed out two jars. Asked about any drugs or weapons by officers who went to the Perez home, Perez "volunteered to direct the officers to the location of it," an investigative report said.
The 27-year-old Perez and his 29-year-old wife were charged Friday with misdemeanor drug possession involving just over one-third of a pound of marijuana. Perez and his wife were released on personal bond.
Outside legal experts say the charge typically is handled like a traffic ticket and might result in a fine.
Under the drug agreement between Major League Baseball and its players' association, marijuana offenses generally result with the player undergoing a treatment program rather than discipline.
Perez has six saves this season but is on the disabled list with an injured right shoulder.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tim Tebow finally has a new team.
The New England Patriots announced the signing of the polarizing quarterback with the poor throwing motion on Tuesday, six weeks after he was cut by the New York Jets and just in time for the start of the three-day minicamp that runs through Thursday.
Tebow, 25, is being reunited with Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator who was Denver's head coach when the Broncos traded into the first round to take him with the 25th draft pick in 2010.
There is no guarantee that Tebow will still be with the Patriots when training camp begins next month, but if the Patriots keep him, he would have time to develop as a quarterback since Tom Brady holds that job. Tebow even could be tried at tight end, where the status of Rob Gronkowski is uncertain after he had his fourth operation on his broken left forearm on May 20 and faces back surgery this month.
Tebow's NFL career appeared to be over when the Jets released him on April 29 and no team rushed to sign him. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to bring in the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida to two national championships.
After the NFL draft, in which they selected quarterback Geno Smith from West Virginia, the Jets decided to release Tebow just more than a year after a dressed-up, high-profile press conference that welcomed him to the organization.
New York went 6-10 last season, lost its final three games and finished tied for last place in the AFC East with Buffalo. New England, meanwhile, went 12-4, won the division and advanced to the AFC title game.
"I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me. There was a lot that I'll take from it," Tebow said at the end of the season. "There's a lot that I learned, and there are lot of relationships that I've built, so I know that it happened for a reason."
Now, he joins a rival who swept the Jets last season, including an embarrassing 49-19 loss that New York endured at home on Thanksgiving night.
"We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped," Jets coach Rex Ryan said in April. "Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward."
The last time Tebow threw a pass in Foxborough, Denver lost in the divisional playoff round to the Patriots 45-10 in the 2011 season. He completed 9 of 26 passes for 136 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and five sacks in that game and gained 13 yards on five rushes.
When he was traded to the Jets with great fanfare in March 2012, there was speculation he might replace Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback. But when Sanchez struggled, he was replaced by Greg McElroy late in the season. Tebow threw only eight passes all year and played primarily as the protector for the Jets' punter.
Tebow's presence on the team and absence from the field fed a media frenzy in New York.
The spotlight will be dimmer in Foxborough where Belichick tightly controls which players can talk to the media and what they can say. When they go beyond those limits, Belichick sometimes forbids them from talking with reporters.
Former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist sees the logic in the Patriots' decision to bring Tebow to minicamp.
"If you can find a club that's mature enough to handle it as an organization, then you're going to find the right spot for him," Sundquist said. "What I mean by that is all the media mania and that sort of thing. The club says, `Look, this is the reason we're bringing him on. We feel he can bring X, Y, Z and A, B, C to the table.'
"Explain it to Tim, explain it to the media, explain it to your fan base and explain it to your organization."
The Patriots run a complex offense and Tebow had trouble grasping the strategy in Denver. But the presence of McDaniels could help him.
"If there's one guy in the NFL who's a fan of Tim Tebow or pulling for him, it would be Josh McDaniels," said former Jets and Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst.
"I think they'll take their time developing him," Woody said. "The Patriots are one of those teams that like to develop guys, and they'll even trade them if it works in their favor. In the more immediate future, having played in New England, I know one thing they value is versatility. They're going to try to use Tebow in positions where they feel they can maximize his talent."
As an NFL rookie in 2010, Tebow threw just 82 passes in nine games, starting three.
In 2011, he started 11 games and threw for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He led Denver to a wild-card win over Pittsburgh before the divisional loss to New England.
He was traded to New York after that season when Denver signed Peyton Manning. With the Jets, Tebow completed six of eight passes and ran 32 times for 102 yards.
In addition to Brady, the Patriots also have Ryan Mallett at quarterback already, but they released Mike Kafka on Monday.
The 2007 winner of the Heisman as a sophomore at Florida, Tebow has 2,422 passing yards and a 75.3 rating as an NFL quarterback.