LeBron James steps up in second half as Lakers close in on NBA title
ORLANDO - LeBron James overcame a slow start to finish with game highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers moved one win away from their 17th championship with a 102-96 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
James scored 20 of his points in the second half and added eight assists on the night as the Lakers seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Anthony Davis also added 22 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also contributed 15 points for Los Angeles, and Danny Green had 10.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Tyler Herro added 21 points and Duncan Robinson had 17. Bam Adebayo returned from two games missed with a neck/shoulder injury to score 15 while Goran Dragic (foot) remained sidelined.
Game 5 will take place Friday.
The Lakers went ahead 93-88 on a Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer with 2:58 remaining. After Adebayo couldn't beat the shot clock on a jumper, Caldwell-Pope finished a layup on the other end for a seven-point lead.
The Heat’s Jae Crowder nailed a long-range shot to cut the deficit to four with 1:37 left, but Rajon Rondo scored his first bucket of the game and Davis followed from 3-point range to seal the game for the Lakers.
Down by five to begin the fourth quarter, Miami knotted the score at 83 on a Butler layup with 6:27 left.
The Lakers scuffled to begin the third before James nailed a deep 3-pointer for a 55-54 edge. That kicked off an 11-3 stretch during which James either scored or assisted on each of his team's buckets.
The Los Angeles lead reached 71-64 on back-to-back threes from Kyle Kuzma and Davis. The Lakers ended the quarter up 75-70.
Trailing 27-22 after one, the Heat began the second quarter on a 12-2 run to grab a five-point lead of their own. Los Angeles equalised at 39 on a Markieff Morris 3-pointer and pulled away to 49-45 on an Alex Caruso 3-pointer with 27.6 seconds remaining. A Herro jumper just before the buzzer cut Miami's deficit at the break to two.
Butler led all scorers with 13 in the half. James struggled with eight points and five turnovers before halftime, but he gave the ball away just once in the second half.