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Ballin': LeBron Had a Triple-Double, but Was Terrible Late, and Dallas is on the Brink of a Title

For a moment, it looked like Miami had solved its 4th quarter woes. A 9-0 burst – LeBron had two assists during the run – gave the Heat a 99-95 lead. LeBron had a triple-double. The Heat bench (40 points) was playing its best game of the postseason. NBA commish David Stern began to sweat, because the prospect of a game seven and ginormous ratings seemed bleak with the series headed back to Miami.

Then Dallas peeled off a 17-4 run to close the game, and grabbed a 3-2 series lead. Since game one, Dallas has owned the fourth quarter of the Finals. Game six is Sunday night in Miami.

I know everyone’s giddy LeBron shut up some of the haters with the triple double (17-10-10) but he was at his worst again when it mattered most (the last 5:59). Here’s the breakdown:

* With the game tied at 100, LeBron took a 17-footer jumper over Jason Kidd. Missed.
* At the other end Dirk dunked – we’ll get whether or not it was a travel in a minute – and Dallas led 102-100.
* Next time down the floor, LeBron drove baseline and scored … but it was negated because he was called for a charge. Again, we’ll get to whether or not the refs blew that call shortly.
* Following a Shawn Marion miss, LeBron came back down the floor and took an open 3-pointer: Nope.
* Jason Kidd hit a triple on the ensuing possession and Dallas led 105-100 with 1:26 left.
* That was essentially the ballgame, unless you want to add the 3-pointer Jason Terry hit with LeBron guarding him with less than a minute left.

Stat: 4th quarter scoring, this series (five games) – Dirk Nowitzki 52, LeBron James 11. It’s worth nothing that LeBron had five postseason games this year where he scored 11 or more points in the 4th quarter. I’ll offer my guess why this is happening later. Here’s a video of Wade and LeBron before game five mocking Dirk’s illness/fever from game four.

Now, to the refs and those two questionable calls late in the fourth quarter:

I’ll pass up the opportunity to blame the refs. Feel free to debate it.

Anyway, all is not lost, Miami fans. Teams that have trailed 3-2 in the Finals who have the last two games at home are 3-4. The Lakers pulled it off last year. So obviously, the series isn’t over.

Can we get back to LeBron for a second? He made 4-of-5 three-pointers in the series opener. In the last four games, he’s 3-of-17 from deep. He went 1-of-11 from beyond the arc in Dallas.

I pointed this out a few times last night – the Heat must take LeBron off Jason Terry in the 1st half and save it for the 4th quarter. He clearly looked gassed late last night. Terry simply runs around screens for 30 minutes and I can’t understand why Spoelstra would subject his best player (who is 6-8, 245) to that. Lebron didn’t cover Derrick Rose until the final minutes of games for a reason. The Mavs are no longer (or very rarely) playing Barea and Terry together, so if Terry is on the floor, I’d have Chalmers guarding him. If you do that for 3 quarters, then you can go with Mike Miller over Chalmers late, and shift LeBron onto Terry. No, I have never coached a game, but yes, I’d love to one day.

Obviously, this isn’t all on LeBron (although taking just two fouls shots is puzzling; his low on free throw attempts in the postseason prior to this series was 4, and that was in the game one blowout loss to Chicago). The Heat defense permitted Dallas to shoot 56%, including a staggering 68% from deep (13-of-19). Dirk led the team with 29, but his supporting cast was fantastic again: Terry scored 21, Barea added 17 in his best game of the series and Kidd added 13 after playing terrible in game four. That said, it’s not like the Dallas D was anything special – Miami shot 52% and made 40% of its three-pointers.

I’ll go ahead and predict the Heat win the final two games and LeBron finally snaps out of late-game funk in both of them.

[Coughing video via Bryan Fischer; Ref videos via here, via Zach Lowe]

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