The LA Lakers are one win away from a 17th championship after they beat the Miami Heat 102-96 in Game 4 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals on Wednesday.
LeBron James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Lakers pulled to a 3-1 lead with Anthony Davis sinking a game winning three-pointer with seconds left.
They can win the title when the series resumes in the early hours of Saturday.
“Big-time play. Big-time moment,” James said of Davis’ 3-pointer. “Not only for A.D., but for our ballclub and for our franchise.”
Davis finished with 22 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 and Danny Green added 10 for the Lakers, who didn’t trail at any point in the final 20-plus minutes. The Lakers are now 56-0 this season when leading going into the fourth quarter.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points for Miami, which got 21 from Tyler Herro, 17 from Duncan Robinson and 15 from Bam Adebayo — who returned after missing two games with a neck injury.
James’ 3-pointer with 8:18 left in the third put the Lakers up 55-54 and set the tone for the way the rest of the night was going to go; L.A. leading, Miami chasing.
“Like I always say, they’re a really, really, really good team and we’ve got to play damn near perfect to beat them,” Butler said. “We didn’t do that tonight. … We’ll watch this, learn from it, but we can’t lose another one.”
The Lakers were up by seven with 2:27 left in the third after a 3-pointer by Davis; Miami scored the next six to get within one. Herro made a 3 early in the fourth to get Miami within one again; the Heat promptly fouled Markieff Morris on a 3-point try, and he made all three shots.
Butler scored inside to tie the game with 6:27 left; James scored the next five points himself, including a three-point play where he ended up flat on his back after spinning the ball perfectly off the glass for a score on a drive while taking contact.
James said the job isn’t done. But he knows the Lakers are on the brink.
“I love what we did tonight,” James said.
This is the 36th time that a team has held a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Of the previous 35, the team with the lead has gone on to win the title 34 times — James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 becoming the exception when they won three straight games to defeat Golden State.
In the 3-1 Finals situation, the series has ended in five games 51.4% of the time (18 instances), in six games 40% of the time (14 instances) and in seven games 8.6% of the time (three instances).