For three quarters and 11 minutes, the Miami Heat's offense boiled down to two words: LeBron James.
James may not have made the shot that put the Heat ahead for good in Monday night's 102-96 Game 4 win over the Nets, but it was his scoring that made Chris Bosh's three-point dagger possible.
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The Nets knew they couldn't consistently stop James, so the other option was to let him get his points and try to stop everyone else. He tied his playoff career high with 49 points, but for all but the final minute of the game, the strategy worked and worked well.
But then, with the score tied and the Heat badly needing a bucket, James made the perfect decision. Double-teamed with time running down on the shot clock, he passed to Mario Chalmers, who passed it to Bosh. He swished a three-pointer with 57 seconds left to make the score 97-94 and give the Heat the momentum.
"I see a lot going on in the game that not a lot of others see," James said. "I made the right play."
James, who picked up his fifth foul with just under four minutes left, also came up big in the final minute while playing defense on Joe Johnson. Johnson, with James plastered to him, came up empty on two possessions in the final minute. On one, Johnson backed James down, and James fell as Johnson went up for a shot that missed. Johnson said he thought James had flopped, adding "I should have known they wouldn't call a foul" on James.
James, however, brushed off Johnson's accusations of flopping. "I believe in one-on-one situations, I can stop anyone from scoring," he said. "He missed one. He missed two of them."
James' teammates have seen some great performances from him, and they said this was right up there.
"Watching that, it was one of the best feelings you could have," Dwyane Wade said. "He took over the game like that and was being aggressive and he put so much pressure on the defense. Obviously, he led us in the win tonight. All anyone else had to do outside of that was chip in, hit timely shots and do timely things when he is going that way."
Said coach Erik Spoelstra: "He was indefatigable. He has a way of sensing what it is we need. We could go on and on. He was what was needed on the road. That's what makes him the best player on the road. He does whatever's needed."
The Heat now leads the series 3-1 and hopes to close it out at home. Before the game, Wade called it the team's biggest game since Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year. Now the Heat knows it has the Nets right where it wants them.
Said Wade: "We wanted to come in here and get one of these games and we were able to do that, which is all that matters."