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SAN ANTONIO – After struggling to score through the first three games of the NBA Finals, LeBron James has made several bold promises to his skeptics – and his fans – heading into Game 4.
"I'll be better," James said before the Heat's practice Wednesday afternoon. "I'll be much better [Thursday] night."
The Heat trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-1 in the Finals after a 113-77 blowout loss in Game 3 in which James missed 14 of 21 shots, including 11 of his 13 attempts. James said he takes "full responsibility for that" and is putting pressure on himself to improve.
James is drawing much of the blame for the Heat's struggles after averaging 16.7 points on 38.9 percent shooting in the series. He has also missed 10 of 13 3-pointer attempts and only taken six free throws. In comparison, James averaged 29 points in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, 23.6 points in the second round against the Chicago Bulls and 24.5 points in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks.
"I'm putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team," James said.
James typically prides himself in all-around, team-first play – and he's averaging 12.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in the Finals. But going by his comments on Wednesday, he sounds determined to play more like Michael Jordan than Magic Johnson.
"I have to do whatever it takes," James said. "I mean, 7‑for‑21 isn't going to cut it. Zero free throws. I had 11 rebounds, I had five assists, but 7‑for‑21 and zero free throws ain't going to cut it. So I will be better tomorrow."
James said he's half to blame for his offensive struggles while the Spurs' double and sometimes triple-team defense deserves credit for the other half of his problems. He intends to be aggressive early in the game, off the dribble and in transition in Game 4 to counter the Spurs' defense.
While James acknowledged that the rest of his teammates also need to step up, he plans to lead the way.
"I'm not discounting anyone," James said. "We wouldn't be at this point without my teammates. I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates. But I am the star, I am the leader. And they look at me to do things on the court, to make plays, and if I'm not doing it, I'm not doing my job."
NBA Finals coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Tony Parker uncertain to play in Game 4 because of hamstring injury
• LeBron James regressing – for the moment – to dark days of Finals disaster against Mavericks
• Danny Green, Gary Neal lead Finals-record charge as Spurs crush impotent Heat