With their backs against the wall and hopes of repeating as champions fading, the Miami Heat’s Big Three used a dominating performance to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-93 on Thursday and even the NBA Finals at 2-2.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had their best game of the NBA Finals, combining for 85 points as the Heat reclaimed home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series.
“I mean, it was on our shoulders, obviously,” James, who had a game-high 33 points, told reporters.
“When all three of us are clicking at the same time, we’re a very tough team to beat,” he added.
Wade turned in his biggest offensive performance of the playoffs, scoring 32 points, while Bosh equaled his post-season high by chipping in with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“All of them provided us great energy defensively and that got us off to a decent start, and quite obviously they are big components to what we do offensively,” Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“We run almost every trigger through them. This happened to be a game where they were all able to be aggressive. The next game might present a different challenge, but we needed every bit of it tonight,” he added.
Tim Duncan scored a team-high 20 points, while Tony Parker shrugged off a mild hamstring strain suffered in the previous game to score 15 points on seven-of-16 shooting for the Spurs, but the home side were left chasing shadows for most of the contest.
Game 5 is in San Antonio tomorrow, before the teams return to Miami for Game 6 and a series decider, if necessary.
Miami controlled the early exchanges and appeared set to take a comfortable lead into halftime, but San Antonio’s Boris Diaw came off the bench to spark an 11-2 run late in the second quarter to tie the game at 49-49 by the interval.
Leading by 11 points with six minutes to play, the defending champions started to pull away, aided by nine points down the stretch from James, who had shouldered much of the blame for the Heat’s 36-point loss in the previous contest.
James had repeatedly vowed he would be back to his best for Game 4 and despite a relatively quiet start, he managed to carry his team when it mattered most.
San Antonio’s trio of Gary Neal, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 65 points in the Game 3 victory, could only contribute 35 points between them on Thursday.
The Spurs were largely undone by turnovers, giving the ball up 18 times and failing to contain James, Wade and Bosh the way they did in Game 3, when the All Star trio were limited to 43 points in Miami’s 113-77 loss.
“When Bosh, Wade and James score the way they did tonight and shoot it the way they did tonight, teams are going to have a difficult time,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.
“When those guys play like that, you better be playing a more perfect game. You can’t turn it over that many times. It’s a bad combo,” he added.