By Diego Quezada
In a way, Game 4 consisted of the tables turning on the two conference champions. While the Dallas Mavericks needed a basket to send Game 3 into overtime, the Miami Heat needed a 3-pointer to tie the game in the next meeting. With Mike Miller under pressure to pass the ball in-bounds, Dwyane Wade fumbled the pass for a second, taking precious time off the 6.7 seconds left on the clock. He got the ball back to Miller, who shot an errant 3 that ended any hope of the Heat taking a 3-1 series lead.
The Heat lost this game when they went cold offensively in the fourth quarter. After a Wade layup gave the Heat a five-point lead with seven minutes left to go, Miami did not score again until two Chris Bosh free throws at the 1:53 mark. The Heat turned the ball over, but Miami simply could not seem to make a basket. Miller even missed a layup after getting an offensive rebound during that stretch.
Nonetheless, the Heat defense kept the Mavericks from taking advantage. Wade even had a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line with 30 seconds left, but missed the second free throw. This loss should not be nearly as troubling as Game 2. Of course, the Heat could have gone up 3-1, but Miami has a chance to take the series lead in Game 5 Thursday night.
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Skip Bayless and other sports talking-heads will point the loss directly at LeBron James, who scored a playoff career-low eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field and committed four turnovers. Although James did not play as aggressively as he did in Game 3, he played mostly within the offense. On two consecutive possessions in the second quarter, James posted up Jason Kidd, finding Joel Anthony for an open dunk on one trip and Wade for a layup on the next. The two-time MVP had nine rebounds and seven assists, and the Heat could have won this game with him only scoring eight points.
Wade was spectacular, scoring 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the field. He also had six rebounds, two steals and two blocks – including one great rejection at the rim on a Tyson Chandler dunk attempt. He did miss three free throws and did fumble that last pass, but Miami wouldn’t have even had a chance in this game without his performance.
Chris Bosh scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half, shooting 9-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the foul line. Bosh played aggressively early on, but looked unprepared in the fourth quarter, frequently mishandling passes and committing turnovers.
I’m not concerned about this loss at all. The Heat seemed to miss everything after a burst at the start of the fourth quarter to go up nine points, yet still had a chance to send the game into overtime. James played pretty badly offensively, and no one should expect that to happen again in this series. Dirk Nowitzki did suffer from a fever during the game, but he still took 10 trips to the foul line and finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Heat and Mavs will fight for control of the series Thursday at 9 p.m.
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