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NBA finals Game 4: LeBron, Heat play through pain to reach brink of a title

Jun 20, 2012, 1:24 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Four Getty Images

One year ago, the Miami Heat were ahead 2-1 in the finals against Dallas and up 9 points in Game 4. Then they learned some very painful lessons.

This year, the Heat were again up 2-1 and this time were down 94-92 with four minutes remaining. Adding to their woes, LeBron James was on the bench after having to be carried off the court with quad cramps.

But this time Miami turned out to be the ones teaching the lessons of execution under pressure — they put together a 12-4 run to close the game run that included a dramatic three by a gimpy LeBron, Mario Chalmers stepping up, plus both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade making plays. The Thunder had Russell Westbrook and not much else and that was not enough.

The result was a 104-98 Heat win that has Miami up 3-1 and now one win away from an NBA championship.

This series feels over and it may happen Thursday night in Game 5. The Thunder locker room after the game was painfully quiet, their body language was that of a team that just took a blow to the gut. Dejected doesn’t do it justice. They looked defeated. They are learning hard lessons— ones Miami learned last year — and while they will not roll over, you could sense they know how this will end.

The Heat have matured and talked about taking nothing for granted.

“There will be an incredible amount of noise on the outside and we need to stay focused on the moment,” Spoelstra said. To a man every Heat player said something similar about not losing focus — it’s a lesson they learned the hard way last year.

Game 4 started out with a desperate Thunder team racing out to a 13-3 run behind a Westbrook, who Wade described as “playing on another level.” He started fast and finished fast, ending up with 43 points on just 32 shots. He blitzed the Heat defense and they had no answer because his jumper was falling, especially when he could get to the elbow.

“We missed some chippies, ones we normally make, and they came out from a ferocious intensity,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the start.

But the Heat closed that gap in the second quarter and it was a tight game the rest of the way. Kevin Durant added 28 points but no other Thunder player broke into double digits. That is where the game was lost. Once again James Harden was just bad — 8 points on 10 shots with twice as many turnovers (4) as assists (2). The Thunder cannot win without him, he is their X factor.

Westbrook was not perfect — he made a bad foul late. Miami was up three with 13 seconds left and 4 seconds left on the shot clock for Miami when there was a jump ball. When Chalmers won the jump ball Westbrook fouled him instantly, thinking he had to, not realizing the Heat had to rush a shot. Chalmers hit the free throws and that was pretty much it.

“It was just a miscommunication on my part,” Westbrook said of not knowing the shot clock. “Nothing I can do about it now.”

Some fans will smack Westbrook around online for that play, but they miss the point. Without his monster night the Thunder are not even close in this game.

Oklahoma City lost a game by inches — a block here, some of Durant’s threes falling (1-for-5), Thabo Sefolosha missing a wide-open corner three late, any of that changes the game. The Thunder made it to the finals, but they have been out-executed down the stretch the last three games. Coaches like to call it a hit-or-miss league and right now the Thunder are missing late and the Heat are making. Miami is getting balance — Chalmers and Wade had 25 points each.

Miami players can smell it now. The Thunder will not roll over but it will be a real test to see what kind of emotion they can play with on Thursday night.

Miami is gutting out, grinding out wins. That’s what champions do.

  1. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    FIFTEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m freaking out right now

  2. eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    take a xanax dude.

  3. badintent - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    LBJ looked like “The Captain” Willis Reed in the 4th hitting a huge 3 on 1 leg. As a long time Knick fan, I salute you for your courage and guts to play in pain. Cleveland , go cut your wrists. Dan Boy first. LBJ is the Beast of the East. And Wade dealing with his pyshco ex-wife trying to steal his children, no wonder , he looked like he was not into the game at times.

    • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:19 AM

      No disrespect to James as he played gutsy and came up big. But I wouldn’t compare a cramp to a torn thigh muscle, which Willis Reed had. From a looks standpoint, I can see your point. From a reality viewpoint though it is not even comparable. Willis Reed was quite heroic to come back after missing game six (when Chamberlain went off for 45 points and 27 rebounds without Reed to defend him) he came back for the decisive game seven and inspired his teammates with two early baskets.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:25 AM

      You’re an idiot. It was a cramp not a tear. Idiotic Heat fan!

      • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        Lol gotta complain about something huh you pathetic loser.

  4. redbullenergydrink - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Anyone else still believes experience is over-rated? Just rewatch Battier and Westbrook during the jump ball play at the end of the game. THAT WAS THE THUNDER’s LAST CHANCE to win the game!

    • addictedzone - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:05 AM

      Battier’s tip to Chalmers late, and LeBron’s quick bullet pass to Wade under the hoop early…both highlight reel plays of experience.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:27 AM

      Poor officiating isn’t overrated

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:22 AM

        Overrated. lol

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        “Poor officiating isn’t overrated”

        No it’s an excuse losers use. You know, so they’re not held accountable and stuff.

        You must be an Ohioan that likes the Fins, can’t blame you. There is nothing much to root for over by the mistake by the lake.

        1 more game and all the haters will go into hiding. They’ll probably make excuses, or finally admit that they’re distain fot LBJ and the Heat are un-founded and just come from a place of jealousy and envy. That’s going to be a harsh realization.

        WILBON WHO’S STUPID?? MORON!!

  5. dgbk - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    good game good effort by the thunder heat just excuted better in the clutch…Westbrook and Durant need eachother.. For all those who say westbrook take away shots he dont… westbrook is more agressive and push the issue tradin him wont change durant. it will mean u have someone else takin shots. i will much rather that be westbrook.

    another pt its both great to watch and sad for basketball. i have a feeling Lebron has 3 more out of this world seasons then he will slow down like kobe in his early 30′s. he plays a lot of mins and he actually mentioned needin a rest this series.

    I have never seen Lebron hurt and not play through it that cramp was bad. gutsy performance by him and the heat

  6. rodgersmvp - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    That clutch three at the end should silence all the criticisms of LeBron. His ring on the line, his leg cramped up so bad he was crying on the sidelines, and he steps up in the big moment to hit the three. This is not the LeBron that shrunk last season, he has stepped up.

    • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:48 AM

      My wife has cramps every month. She never cries! Congrats on stepping up. But he shouldn’t act like a dramatic vagina on the sideline with the crying.

      • 6thsense79 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:38 AM

        Lucky

        You must have never played sports before. Just about everyone that has experience cramps at some point and know that they are no joke. I have seen 300 pound line men bought to their knees because of cramping. So yes compare that to your wife and your vaginal cramps. Idiot.

      • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:07 AM

        6thsense,

        I actually played football and wrestled in college, so there goes your theory on that. I know you must be a rabid heat fan who caresses his Lebron poster every night before bed. I don’t doubt that you saw linemen drop to their knees. I have too. But they never cried. You see, I also know a thing or two about sports and just because you choose to defend Lebron, doesn’t make him less than a drama queen. He has been that way since coming into the league. So I am not sure why you are so surprised when he cries like a little girl. You guys act like Lebron is the first professional athlete to ever get cramps. He is however, the only professional athlete I ever saw cry because of cramps on national TV because of them.

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:23 AM

        yeah she’s probably cramping up from having to look at your dumbass every morning! Lol!

      • heat256 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        Lucky,

        Getting oiled up and rolling around with your man friends doesn’t count as wrestling.

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        You must have watched some other game, in no instance was LeBron crying.. He was cringing but not crying.

        Besides, I’m sure your much tougher and resiliant than LeBron after all you were a multi-sport stud in school. You know the saying, the older I get the better I was…

      • sguy2130 - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM

        Anyone who has watched LBJ throughout his careers knows he over dramatizes his so called “injuries”. Even Wade said after the game “He’ll be fine”. LBJ has had fantastic games and finals series, but let’s not make this something it’s not, this has fake Bloody sock written all over it.

      • borderline1988 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        Cramps suck. Obviously it depends on how bad they are. But they really hurt, and I’d find it impossible to play a basketball game in the middle of a full-blown cramp.

        Lebron’s has always received critiscm and ridicule for his inability to win a championship or play big in playoff 4th quarters.
        But this season, it’s impossible to deny his play. He is the Finals MVP, and he deserved the ring he’s about to capture.
        For all the hate you spew, give the guy credit where it’s due.

  7. canehouse - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    Another incredible game… it’s easier for me to say that… but i said the same after we lost in game 1. This thing is far from over… game 5 is going to be epic! LET’S GO HEAT!!!!

  8. duane888 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    This time around Miami is looking like veteran’s and OKC looking young and experienced in crunch time.

    • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:43 AM

      I think you mean ‘inexperienced’

      • allthewaylive1 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        Listening to Brooks say “Experience had nothing to do with it” was priceless.

      • duane888 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM

        @ edweirdo

        Yes, that’s what i meant. thank you: typo

  9. 91devinhester23 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    injury gods, you missed your chance to right a previous wrong. Of course lebron limping off the court grabbing what looks like his knee is just a quad strain. That’s fair.

    oh well enjoy the rings captain humble boy flopper and giant bandwagon pile

    • divan22 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:38 AM

      Wrong. There is no bigger bandwagon than that of the LeBron haters. Rooting against this guy and his team is the trendiest thing in all of sports.

      Sorry to hear you’re all wetting your pants and crying uncontrollably right now.

      • 91devinhester23 - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM

        just out of curiosity: do you heat fans not see that your team acts like a bunch of whiny petulant babies? Do you just ignore that for the thrill of rooting for a team that’s probably going to win?

        I hate wade more at this point. Just acts like a complete sleazeball. That tantrum moment where he pounded the court cause he didn’t get the call is pretty much his signature. Nope doesn’t matter LETS GO HEAT atleast until the big 3 is over then I’ll find another overdog to root for.

      • blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        91devinhester23: I’m going to take it from your name that you are – like me – a Bulls fan, and most likely a Chicagoan. Don’t you think it’s time to get over this? I was mad LeBron didn’t go to the Bulls, too. For about thirty seconds. All the stuff you are talking about is the exact same stuff people said about Jordan and the Bulls. Just appreciate great basketball for what it is.

      • duane888 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        @ 91devinhester

        I used to like how Durant would take his fouls in stride and just keep it moving. Now that he’s in a real series and realized he can’t cover Lebron, he’s crying about every time he fouls. Should he get a pass for whining ?!?!

  10. rickyspanish - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Anyone see the commercial for Durant’s movie? It’s great. Dwight Howard should make Kazam 2.

    • okcallday - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:22 AM

      thank you, finally someone talks about something relevant on this damn site.

  11. dirtybird2020 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Refs win again! Miami fans blow, and lebitch is well you know still a b$&ch!

    • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:44 AM

      everyone’s laughing alllll the waaaayyy to the bank ;)

    • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:25 AM

      Dirtybird- You lose! LMAO
      Wohooo, muahahahahahahahahahaha

  12. BigBeachBall - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    looks like lebron is on top…
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    ….of your mom.

    • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:17 AM

      If by mom, you mean David Stern… as a thank you gift for the *wink* great calls.

    • allthewaylive1 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      That’s cold!! lol

  13. pudgalvin - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    I think I finally figured out last night why I can’t stand watching the Heat. They play like a European soccer team. Dwayne Wade falls down and proceeds to run around the court like he’d been shot in the back for a minute, only to be completely fine 45 seconds after that. Chris Bosh will fall down because of a cool breeze. Mario Chalmers could punch someone in the throat and he’d run down the court in incredulously shouting at the officials. Sure they’re all really, really good. But they also play and insufferable brand of basketball that’s infuriating to watch if you’re not a Miami fan.

    Also, favorite sequence of the game last night: Lebron runs down the court, throws 4 forearm shivers and Harden and when Harden tries to stand his ground after the last one, they give Lebron 2 free throws. I’ve been pretty okay with the officiating through the series, but I thought it was pretty bad last night. When Russel Westbrook is attacking the basket like a madman and gets 3 free throws the entire game, somethings a tick off.

    • lucky5934 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:43 AM

      Haven’t you heard pudgalvin… the Heat are excellent defenders. Team Diva NEVER foul their opponents. It is the most amazing display of defensive discipline and self-control. It’s almost as if the refs are given them the benefit of the doubt. Ref # 1 “I’m sure Lebron was just trying to bring his arm up to high five a teammate when Harden ran into his arm for the fourth time…. Completely uncalled for by Harden.” Ref # 2 “Yeah did you see how slippery the floor was. Poor Dwayne couldn’t keep his feet from slipping.”

      • gmsingh - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:06 AM

        When the series is over–and it won’t be long now–I’m going to total up the FTA for both teams to see how much of a discrepancy there is in the Heat’s favor. My guess is it will be in the neighborhood of 75%.

    • borderline1988 - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      Honestly, I felt like Lebron deserved more calls than he was given. He was attacking in the post, where he’s completely unstoppable, and the Thunder were bodying up on him all game.

      I admit though that Wade is a whiner who falls down after every shot no matter what. But the fact is, he doesn’t really get calls anymore, probably b/c he’s known as a flopper now. So you may be complaining about him, but it’s actually a good thing b/c there’s at least 5 or 6 plays per game where the Thunder get to play 5 on 4 for a few moments because Wade is on the floor complaining.

      And maybe Westbrook should have gotten a few more calls, but you can’t just say that, you need to point to actual plays. Westbrook was getting all the way to the rim without contact b/c the Heat helpers were constantly late on his blow-byes.

      And if you’re going to complain about flopping, you can’t avoid mentioning James Harden. He’s as big of a flopper as they come in this league, in all aspects of the game.

      The Heat are incredible at drawing charges btw. Battier is the best charge-taker in the game, with Haslem pretty close behind.

  14. cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:23 AM

    Hard to win when you’re playing 5 vs 8.

    • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      Lebron is CANTONBOUND! Muahahahahahahahahaha

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:35 AM

        Hey moron, Springfield is where the NBA Hall of Fame is. Shows how stupid Heat fans are.

      • edweird0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Lol honestly I absolutely LOVE that you really have nothing to bitch about anymore so you’re just going for the pettiest Of sh!t. I look forward after every game to hearing you be a pathetic loser. Really puts stuff into perspective for ya. Hope you enjoyed waking up to another Heat win this morning on the way to your crappy job!

    • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      Heat to win playing 5 vs 1 million haters! muahahahahahahahahaha

  15. truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Love to hear ALL the pain the HEAT is giving you haters. dirtydork, cantonclown and others (we seem to have lost mr. wrong, again) You’re watching GREATNESS unfold in front of your eyes, enjoy it! We are.

    HEAT have won 3 in a row and the Thunder have no clue. For all the hype, they now look like a bunch of little girls scrambling around in circles. Poor coaching and no heart dow nthe stretch.

    The GREATNESS of the HEAT stings you losers and we’re ALL laughing at you now haters!

    HEAT IN 5!

  16. truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    When Russel Westbrook is attacking the basket like a madman and gets 3 free throws the entire game, somethings a tick off?”

    Let me explain something as you are new to basketball. “attacking the basket like a madman” is not a automatic foul call… you kinda need to be fouled, which he wasn’t. If so, he wouldn’t have made that many layups.

    Got it? Good… these ref EXCUSES are pathetic and ignorant

    • hickoryhigh - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      I’m not blaming the officiating because I think the Thunder just got outplayed. They had a chance to win that game regardless of the officials. But . . .

      I guarantee that you have never seen a guy score 30 points without a single free throw attempt like Westbrook did last night. And don’t act like he didn’t get fouled on any of those.

      And for that matter, they could have realistically called about 24 fouls on Battier off the ball, the guy was all over people.

      So good game by the Heat, they deserved the win last night, but that officiating definitely favored them.

  17. blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    This is hardly over, folks. If the Thunder win game five they instantly become the favorites again. Of course, if they lose game five…

    This has been some riveting basketball. Hate to see it end so early. Hopefully David Stern recalibrates the officials to the OKC setting for a bit and gives us a couple more games. Right, my bottom-feeding sad sack loser friends?

    • gmsingh - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      Wow, you’re one obnoxious prig. I’m amazed at people that revel in the avarice and cheating that goes on in a regular basis in the U.S. Once upon a time we were a proud country, now we’re a country full of anonymous weasels like “blueintown’. Sad.

      • blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:22 AM

        Did you just call me a prig? I don’t think I want to be friends anymore, gmsingh. If that is your real name, I feel as if you may be posting anonymously. Enjoy the remainder of the series that you’re not watching anyway. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

    • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      “This is hardly over, folks. If the Thunder win game five they instantly become the favorites again”

      The Heat could lose the next 2 and OKC still wouldnt be the favorite, no team has ever come back from a 3-1 defecit. So no they wouldnt be the favorites. And besides the Heat have already won one in OKC so it’s not that much of an advantage. Only recalibrating needed here is your brains and your hating!

    • blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      eddie, eddie, eddie..you need to understand context, my friend. I called the cantankerous imbeciles pontificating about the refs “bottom-feeding sad sack losers” because that’s exactly what they are. Regardless, an OKC win in game five would shift momentum back to OKC, and return home court advantage to them. It’s not a prediction, or a threat, or an insult to the good people of Dade county. It’s just an observation. If you really think Miami would be favored in a game seven on the road, then there is nothing I can do to help you.

      I’m not a hater. I’m not a lover. I’m an objective observer who appreciates great basketball and does not factor in silly, trivial matters like the refs or “the decision” or anything these dopes say off the court into how I watch the game. Relax. Enjoy this. Appreciate the journey for what it is right now. I wish I had done that with the Bulls in ’98, because ’99 suuuuuuuucked.

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM

        If you think the Heat will lose the next three games, well theres nothing I can really do to help you. If you want to help someone go help dirtybird, cantonbound, and gmen4life. Dont bet against Vegas, theyre never wrong. Dont take it personal, no pun intended.

      • blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

        Good God, Eddie. What is so difficult about this? I said it’s not a prediction, it’s just an observation. IF the Thunder win game five, they will have home court advantage.

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        “This is hardly over, folks. If the Thunder win game five they instantly become the favorites again”

        Bluetown, Bluetown, Bluetown, How is that a prediction? Stating a prediction with the word IF is not a prediction.

      • blueintown - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        Do you speak english? Allow me to post the comment in question that you keep posting:

        “This is hardly over, folks. If the Thunder win game five they instantly become the favorites again”

        I said it wasn’t a prediction. You respond by telling me it wasn’t a prediction. I know it’s not a prediction. I just said that. So did you. What are you getting at?

  18. rodge1 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    cantonbitch13, dirtybitch2020, and the rest of you ignorant haters are hilarious. You’re the same idiots who predicted an OKC sweep. And you idiots blaming the refs should check the stats for how many times OKC took jump shots instead of driving to the lane.
    This has been a great and exciting series that could still go either way.

  19. heat256 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    What a great game! OKC came out on fire and were absolutely KILLING the Heat in every way that 1st quarter. Then MIA made adjustments, hit their shots, and got the momentum back. The 4th was just unbelievable. Chalmers was just money then. Westbrook held that team up and kept them in the game. Harden has disappeared this series, and KD had the quietest 28 points I’ve ever seen. Why wasn’t he defending James more? Can Ibaka say KD isn’t good on defense because he isn’t trusted to guard James and stay out of foul trouble? OKC isn’t ready to win a title yet. Next year, perhaps, but it’s Miami’s time. The AAA will be rockin’ Thursday. Go Heat!!!!

  20. southbeachtalent - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    1 game to go…

  21. heat256 - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I love it!! The whiners with their “refs are giving the game to Miami” bulls^%t. That’s ALL they have!! No criticism of OKC at all. No wondering why harden can’t hit a shot. Why Ibaka is a non factor. Why they weren’t trying to exploit Durant’s mismatches more. Brooks’ questionable strategy. Nope, when the evidence is irrefutable, the mental midgets go right to the “excuse” that makes them feel good. Losers!!!! Enjoy the Heat winning ladies. It’s OK. They won’t win the title every year, and all will be OK in your tiny, sad lives when someone else wins.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      Perkins has also been a no show.

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