Humiliated by Miami in Sunday’s third game, in a tight defensive battle that was balanced before Los Angeles walked away in the final minutes, James and the Lakers were back in the running.
Orlando: LeBron James scored 28 points as the Los Angeles Lakers moved closer to their 17th NBA championship title on Tuesday with a 102-96 victory over the Miami Heat.
At best of seven, the win leaves the Lakers 3-1 up in the series, which ensures they will take the championship with a win in game five in Orlando on Friday. “James said later,” I thought both teams were desperate, knowing the situation they had gotten themselves into. It was about trying to get every extra possession, running the offense, not making any defensive mistakes, that’s what it was all about. James started slowly, but took the lead in the second half as he gave eight assists and collected 12 rebounds.
Then, with 39.5 seconds on the clock, Davis exhausted his second triple of the night just to give the Lakers a 100-91 lead and effectively seal the deal. Butler, the 40-point hero of Sunday’s Miami win, dropped to 22 points, disappointed by Davis’ strong defensive display at every turn.
A struggle of attrition saw the defences at every turn at the top, with Miami long holding the challenge of James and Davis. In particular, James struggled throughout the first half to produce his normal pace, giving up five turnover and scoring only eight points.
After a Kyle Kuzma triple and an Alex Caruso tray, the Lakers seemed to have developed a vaporous head by the end of the first period, closing in on a 27-22 lead. But early in the second period, Miami reacted quickly, turning a five-point deficit into a 33-29 lead after Jae Crowder’s triple.
James’ long-range shots improved in the third quarter, with his first triple of the night landing on a 29-foot attempt to bring the Lakers ahead by 55-54. A Danny Green bucket was followed by a James tray, and suddenly the Lakers had moved into a 59-54 lead. Davis’ first 28-foot triple of the game put the Lakers seven points ahead with two minutes remaining in the period.