LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to within one game of their first NBA Championship in a decade after girinding out a 102-96 game four win against the Miami Heat.
James was restricted to eight points in a closely-contested first half but the ex-Miami superstar put up 20 second-half points to record a game-high 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to send Los Angeles 3-1 ahead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals series.
Anthony Davis (22 points) played a key supporting role, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15 points) made a pair of clutch fourth-quarter plays that extended the lead from two points to seven with two minutes to play.
Miami’s Jimmy Butler backed up his sensational game three performance by leading his team in scoring with 22 points, while rookie Tyler Herro (21 points) and Duncan Robinson (17 points) help keep the Heat’s chances alive in Orlando, Florida.
Inspired by their stunning bounce-back win in game three, Miami started fast and the returning Bam Adebayo wasting no time in scoring the first of his 15 points, but LA responded strongly to open up a 27-22 first quarter lead.
The Heat came out firing again at the top of the second quarter as Andre Iguodala’s three-pointer turned what once was a seven-point Lakers advantage into a four-point Heat lead at 33-29.
A Lakers time-out helped turn the tide and Los Angeles were back ahead 49-47 at the half, before a couple of long-range bombs from James and another three-pointer from Danny Green stretched the gap to five at 62-57.
Miami were closing in as the end of the third quarter drew near but Davis moved into double figures with a seven footer for 65-62 before another strike from downtown reinstalled the seven-point lead at 71-64.
The Heat were relentless in their pursuit, bringing the score back to 90-88 with three minutes to play, but Caldwell-Pope drained LA’s first three-pointer in 10 attempts for 93-89 before delivering a clutch lay-up to once again reinstate the seven-point lead.
A huge three-pointer by Davis with 40 seconds on the clock put LA up nine at 100-91 and there would be no way back for Miami, who go into game five on Friday with their Championship hopes hanging by a thread.