MIAMI – Dwyane Wade looked lost. LeBron James looked around for help that never came. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs looked like a machine – again.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals was another Spurs blowout, 107-86, a victory that puts them one win from the franchise's fifth title. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.
"They smashed us, two straight home games," James said in the postgame news conference.
The Spurs didn't set any shooting records on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena but they were just as dominant as they were in Game 3's wipeout. The defeat marked the first time Miami lost consecutive playoff games since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. It also was the first time a road team won consecutive games in the Finals by at least 15 points.
San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard followed his strong Tuesday performance with a team-high 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 19 points. Tim Duncan had a nasty dunk for two of his 10 points. Even Boris Diaw got a two-handed slam in the rout.
"We're going to use our home court and we're going to come with the same focus that we did in these last two games, and hopefully close it out at home," Duncan said.
James carried the Heat with 28 points, 19 of which were scored in a third quarter that saw the Spurs push their lead to 24 points. Wade missed nine of his first 10 shots en route to a 10-point performance.
"I don’t like missing. I'm not used to missing," Wade said.
The Heat had a better start Thursday, but it wasn't saying much. The Spurs jumped to a 13-4 lead after Danny Green made his second 3-pointer with 7:12 left in the first quarter. San Antonio finished the quarter ahead 26-17 after shooting 55 percent from the field. It was a far cry from their record first-half performance of Game 3, but Miami struggled early, missing nine of its 14 first-quarter shots from the floor.
The Spurs increased their lead to 14 in the second quarter with a Manu Ginobili 3-pointer at the 5:29 mark. Nine seconds later the frustrated Heat called a timeout. It didn't slow down the Spurs who stayed hot with a 13-5 run, capped by Leonard's putback slam.
The Heat heard boos as they went into the locker room at halftime down 55-36. It would've been worse had James not hit a desperate triple to close the half.
Miami shot 35.3 percent in the first half with zero fast-break points. James led the Heat with nine first-half points on 3-of-7 shooting. He briefly exited the game – 40 seconds of action – to get his ankle re-taped.
"I think everybody came in expecting something dramatically different than this," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Looking for a spark, the Heat started shooting guard Ray Allen in the second half over forward Rashard Lewis. Allen had six points on two 3-pointers off the bench in the first. James, however, carried the load as he scored 10 points during a 12-6 run to trim Miami’s deficit to 61-48 with 7:56 left in the third quarter.
The Spurs responded strong with a 12-1 run, finalized by a Leonard 3-pointer to go up 24 with 3:49 remaining in the third. The Heat called a timeout one second later and the crowd responded with more boos.
"It was pretty much the same game as the last game," Diaw said. "We were expecting a reaction from them, but we were ready for it. So we just did the same thing."
Last year, the Spurs had two chances to clinch the title but failed in Miami. This time, they get three shots at it, the first on Sunday in San Antonio for Game 5.
"We just have to figure it out," Spoelstra said. "We have 48 hours."