Heat's LeBron James vows to break out in Game 4
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SAN ANTONIO -- When the words of Danny Green's reflections were relayed to LeBron James Wednesday, essentially mentioning how he thought the Spurs weren't stopping James as much as he was stopping himself, the Heat superstar paused briefly.
"Um," James said, taking three seconds to find the right words as he tapped both hands on the podium. "I'll be better. I'll be much better tomorrow night."
James uncharacteristically has been bottled up during these Finals, which resume with Game 4 at the AT & T Center Thursday night with San Antonio holding a 2-1 series lead. He had only four points in the first half of the Spurs' blowout Game 3 win and finished with just 15.
James' small output in the initial 24 minutes marked the first time he's failed to register at least five points in the first halves of consecutive games since the second month of his rookie season in 2003. James never even got to the free-throw line, something that had happened just nine times previously in 898 games.
He mostly fired away from the perimeter, unable to penetrate effectively into the lane thanks to the Spurs' swarming defensive scheme.
"I don't believe I was settling," James said. "I think I took the shots that was there. I had some really good looks that didn't go down. But I just didn't get to the free-throw line. I can't allow that to happen. I have to try to put more pressure on the defense. Not saying the whistle is going to be blown, putting pressure on their defensive interior and for myself to kick it out for my guys to have to do that.
"That's what I was brought here to do. And it can't be anything less than that."
James has yet to top 20 points in the Finals, which seems almost unfathomable for the league's reigning MVP, who is considered to be the best player in the league by a wide margin. James' scoring production has decreased in all three games in the Finals.
He's netted 18, 17 ands 15 points, respectively, in the series and has hit 21 of 54 attempts.
"I'm just missing shots," James said. "They're going under my pick-and-rolls, they're daring me to shoot and anytime I get into the paint they're putting two bodies in front of me. When I get in transition they're putting two bodies in front of me. They're doing a good job, but also I've got to be able to knock down shots. If I knock down shots, that would draw them closer to me and I'd be able to get into the lane."
Either way, adjustments are going to have to be made. James believes receiving the ball on the move as opposed to getting it off standard pick-and-rolls could aid in cracking the Spurs' suffocating defense.
Sidekick Dwyane Wade brushed off James' struggles.
"We're not worried about LeBron," Wade said. "He's going to find his way. He's going to get in a groove. As teammates you try to figure out a way to get him an easy basket in a breakout, try to get it back to him, get a layup, so he can see the ball go in. As a scorer you need to see it go in.
"Besides that, we're not concerned about him at all."
Parker day-to-day. A MRI on the right hamstring of Spurs guard Tony Parker Wednesday revealed a Grade 1 strain, and the team said his status is day-to-day. Asked if he'll play Thursday night, Parker said, "We'll see."