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LeBron’s heroic end spoiled by standard (for him) start and Tony Parker

Jun 7, 2013, 1:13 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game One Getty Images

LeBron James looked loose during his post-game news conference – smiling as he described the Spurs’ final play as “the longest 24 seconds that I’ve been a part of,” repeatedly asking reporters how the box score could give the Spurs 21 second-chance points on six offensive rebounds, admitting the third quarter had taken so much out of him that he request to rest early in the fourth quarter.

I’m not one to criticize LeBron for lacking a killer instinct, and I won’t start now, but LeBron can be prone to spurts of passiveness, and he had one tonight.

In the first 8:30 of the fourth quarter, LeBron scored zero points. To be fair, he spent the first three minutes on the bench, but he should have asserted himself sooner once he hit the court. LeBron knows his talent allows to him to make plays his teammates can’t and plays accordingly, but he doesn’t always recognize how wide the gap is – especially when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh aren’t performing at even an All-Star, let alone superstar, levels.

Finally, Erik Spoelstra demanded his Most Valuable Player to play like one. With 3:30 left, Spoelstra pulled Miami’s other point guards, forcing LeBron to dominate the ball even more, and had LeBron guard Tony Parker, who had been giving the Heat fits.

In his new roles, LeBron immediately stepped up.

He ran a pick-and-roll with Chis Bosh, setting up Bosh for a quality look in the paint. Bosh missed, but LeBron converted the putback. On the ensuing defensive possession, Parker missed a jumper over LeBron. The play before Spoelstra pulled Mario Chalmers, Parker made a similar look over Chalmers.

LeBron then drew a foul on Parker, though it wasn’t a shooting foul, and LeBron missed a 3-pointer later in the possession.  A Parker-Tim Duncan pick-and-roll went nowhere with LeBron defending, but Danny Green made a 3-pointer as Mike Miller was slow to close.

LeBron drove for a left-handed layup and grabbed a defensive rebound on San Antonio’s next possession. He pushed the ball upcourt and passed to Ray Allen, who was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws. Back on defense, LeBron provided excellent help on a rolling Duncan, but Bosh, after falling badly for a pump fake, fouled Duncan.

LeBron then penetrated and kicked to a wide open Bosh, who missed a 3-pointer. LeBron grabbed the defensive rebound on the next possession, took the ball all the way himself, drew a foul and made both free throws.

Finally, Parker scored his only points in the final 3:30 on a circus shot made even more ridiculous by how closely LeBron defended it.

In all, LeBron had six points and three rebounds during the final 3:30 – numbers that would project to 72 points and 36 rebounds in the 42 minutes he played tonight. Obviously, those numbers are unsustainable in a larger sample, but they speak to how dominant he was in those crucial moments.

In that closing stretch, the Heat outscored the Spurs by two points, but it was all for naught. Miami was down by six before it even began.

Parker was too good, and LeBron wasn’t quite good enough before that. Keep in mind, LeBron had a triple-double before his dominant final minutes began. We’re talking about one of the all-time greats playing a great game in the NBA Finals.

It just wasn’t great enough tonight.

  1. wgray981 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    His teammates are letting him down.
    I don’t feel sorry for him.

    • explosionsauce - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      Wade played three good quarter but must’ve had the ole Lebron Disease show up. It’s where you play really well but you just don’t show up for the 4th quarter. And I thought we had seen the last of that illness. Bosh is a soft, had a good day with the mid range but horrible downtown and was scared of the paint.

      I feel sorry for Wade and Lebron, they thought they were teaming up with a big man but come to find he’s just a big softy. Bosh couldn’t dominate the pain in a WNBA game.

      • explosionsauce - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        *paint

      • tristanalf - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        no you got it right… he couldnt dominate the pain in the WNBA either

  2. timb12 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    I’m getting tired of people piling on Bosh and Wade. At this point in the playoffs, you know what you’re getting from them. Lets see if Lebron can step his game up even more and have a career defining moment. I do think the Spurs just have it figured out, I hope they pull it off.

  3. losanginsight - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    It’s not Lbj’s fault that the heat play in the NBAs version of a mid-major division.

  4. dgbk - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    “LeBron then penetrated and kicked to a wide open Bosh, who missed a 3-pointer. ”

    That play should never happen, especially when bosh was mostly off for the night. Allen one of the all time greats and miller a good shooter on the court u pass to bosh.. I would of rather lebron just throw the ball at the rim, better chance of at least a foul being called then bosh hitting a clutch 3pter . Spurs played great this should be a good series . game two is more interesting to see how heat come out. This game look like it was the heats but they never pulled away.

  5. cpaulii - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    That’s a way to see it. Spurs have a different way to see it. They forced Lebron to shoot from the outside or pass the whole night. No cherry picks, fast breaks or layups in the second half. Lebron, Wade and Boss shot 7 for 47 from the outside. Lebron shot 7 / 16 FG, but only made 1 shot from outside the paint. He shot 1 for 5 from 3.

  6. realninerfan22 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    D wade played a great game, he jusr didn’t get his touches in the 4th or even in the third.. Wade needs the rock to create, lbj needs to wrk off ball… Wade is this men for this job.. Looking 2011 all over again.

    • mazblast - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      LBJ: Let’s see, I can create with or without the ball. Dyane needs the ball to create but never gives it back. Or I can pass it to Chrissie, who’s afraid to go where his size says he can go, so he throws up bricks from way outside. Think I’ll do it myself.

  7. sprint32 - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Lebron wasnt passive in the 4th. Spurs basically had 2 people watching him. hy force a bad shot when you can get an open one. The roles player did not hit in the 4th. And Tony did not give them fits the whole game. He had 11 points going into the 4th. Spurs just played a better 4th.

  8. killerbones - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Every adjective and superlative in the article directed toward Wade, Bosh, and the rest of the Heat is overly negative, and every one directed toward Lebron is overly positive and gushing. Just an observation. “Lebron, while flexing his pecs and smiling seductively into the crowd, made an impossibly picture perfect pass to Bosh, who missed an are-you-kidding-me 2 foot dunk at the rim while making a goofy face!” I should be a writer.

  9. steelcitywhitty - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    you forgot to mention LeBron’s two costly turnovers late in the 4th.

  10. explosionsauce - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    In all, LeBron had six points and three rebounds during the final 3:30 – numbers that would project to 72 points and 36 rebounds in the 42 minutes he played tonight.

    ——————————-

    How about you take the actual sample from the game and not find a stretch of 3:30 where scored and make it look like he could’ve dominated like that the entire game. That’s silly. He couldn’t, his body wore down in the 3rd quarter fight through all those screens.

    Rest > Rust

    Your move Miami

    • borderline1988 - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      I actually thought the Heat looked pretty good. They lost the game b/c of a lackluster 3rd quarter, but there was none of that “crazy Spurs ball movement that’s going to kill the Heat” or “Spurs domination in the paint” that so many people predicted. Tiago Splitter is a good defender but he’s just not very aggressive on the offensive end. He’s a good match for Bosh b/c he doesn’t have that aggression/energy to punish Bosh on the offensive end. I don’t see Splitter scoring more than 10 points in any game..

      Duncan is hard for the Heat to stop, but he’s old and I just don’t think he’s able to handle the ball 25 times in the post. So he’ll score his efficient 20 – 25 points, but he’s not going to kill the Heat for 30 or more.

      The Heat are a more athletic team, and I don’t think the Spurs can contain them. The Heat just mis-timed their energy. They pressed the Spurs hard in the 2nd quarter, and ran out of gas (and time) later in the game.

      The Heat need to keep the game close through the first 3 quarters, and then pour on the defensive energy in the 4th. That’s been their M.O. all season…they can’t have those lazy 4th quarters especially against the Spurs. The Spurs are extremely well-coached, but the Heat are better when they pour it on.

      • maddog111 - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        I agree that the Heat looked pretty good, and thats the scary part. They played pretty well and still lost. I don’t think the’ll get more from Wade and Bosh combined in another game this series than they did last night. If San Antonio had been hitting their 3′s, could have won easily.

  11. thomas655 - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    What is a triple-double worth if your team loses? Nada!!

    GO SPURS GO!!!!!!!!

  12. thomas655 - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Kawhi Leonard did a great job defending James. He is young enough and quick enough to stay up with James. I think that is the key to the Spurs winning their 5th NBA title.

  13. money2long - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    is lebron passive? or maybe at times he just doesn’t know how to create a shot like a Jordan or Kobe ? i hate to say it, sometimes when a game looks tough, he may look timid and hoping a teammate bails him out with a huge three when it gets harder to drive or he’s reluctant to go to the free throw line. when the other team he’s facing isn’t scared of him, he feels that. lebron needs wade to step up and take pressure off him. something in me tells me he is not too happy having to try to switch to playing hero. im waiting for he and wade to do a post game conference together. i remember when that was the norm. now it comes here and there. is he and wade yelling at each other behind closed doors? lebron is certainly feeling some heat. having to wait 2 days to play again is probably killing him.

  14. jbeagles23 - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Bosh is tryin to hard to make up for all his mistakes. I don’t think wade or lebron give him the ball that much in game 2

  15. fanofthegame79 - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Let’s not forget that the Heat lost game 1 of last years finals as well. They have a habit of losing game 1′s and coming back and cleaning up. I originally said Heat in 6….may I revise and say Heat in 7?

    • rtfinch - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      while we’re at it, don’t forget tim duncan, manu, and tony parker are 3-0 when theyve won game 1 of the nba finals.

  16. jbeagles23 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    The heats rotations make no sense

  17. jollyjoker2 - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    The heat better know that San Antonio isnt going to throw up bricks like Indiana. The margin is slimmer now.

  18. tonynelson1914 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Wow…Heat took an L in game 1, just 3 more Ls to go LOL…

  19. savvybynature - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I guess I missed James’ end-game heroics. Must have been too distracted by the Spurs winning the game to catch the real story…

  20. jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Spurs are a hell of a good team. But this series far from over. Captain Obvious, over and out!

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      Excuse me: “is far from over”.

  21. txnative61 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    You want Lebron to guard Tony Parker? Go ahead, make my day! With their aging lineup and exit in the playoffs last year I think coach Pops and the Spurs have learned a lot about fatigue, and not just their own. Every bit of extra work Lebron had to do took its toll, until it was too little too late. Looked like the Spurs plan to maximize their extra rest to me. It doesn’t mean it will continue to work, that the Heat won’t find answers, but for the older Spurs to have a chance in a long series, they need to maximize every advantage.

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