The knock on LeBron James so far during his NBA career has been that he wilts under pressure.
Too much of a spotlight in Cleveland? Bolt to South Beach to play with two of his buddies from the Olympics.
Too much attention during the fourth quarter of playoff games last season? Defer to his teammates and become a distributor instead of a lethal scorer.
But, with Chris Bosh out of action on Sunday due to an injury and Dwyane Wade playing through an injury of his own, James took the opportunity to put his stamp on Game 4.
Miami struggled to start the game and James scored his teams first points with an emphatic dunk. Indiana coasted to a 25-18 lead to end the first quarter, but King James did anything but coast. He went 4-9 from the field for a team-high nine points.
Throw in James’ three dimes in the opening quarter and his fingerprints were on seven of Miami’s first nine field goals.
When James wasn’t active looking for his shot, he was grabbing rebounds with one hand while holding off an Indiana defender with his other arm.
James finished the first half scoring 19 of Miami’s 46 points while going an efficient 8-14 from the field. His well-balanced game also included five rebounds and four assists.
What was impressive was James’ determination to attack Indian’s defense and either get easy points in the paint or draw fouls. In the second quarter James six of his seven shots came in the paint. This was just an extension of the first quarter where James was attacking the rim and attempted eight of his ten field goals in the paint.
James left the court at halftime with his shoulders dropping and a bewildered look on his face, almost asking, “What else can I do?”
Instead of forcing things in the third quarter or giving up in resignation, James allowed Wade to get some easy looks which got his teammates into a groove. Wade started the third quarter 3-3 from the field with all of those looks at the rim.
James, however, wasn’t a ghost during this stretch. He went 2-3 from the field and continued to be aggressive while helping Wade get into a groove.
Indiana called a timeout in an attempt to stop the bleeding and James answered with an emphatic dunk to pull Miami to within two points. On Miami’s next possession he attacked the rim and forced David West into fouling him and he made both free throws to tie the game at 61.
The play of Wade and James was huge in a 17-2 run that allowed Miami to secure a 68-63 advantage. James and Wade combined to score 27 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the third quarter. This capped a run that started during the second quarter during which the duo combined 38 straight points for Miami.
Miami’s strong play culminated in a 30-16 advantage during the third quarter which helped move the heat from a seven point deficit at halftime to a six point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Just when Indiana appeared to be making a run in the fourth quarter, James dunked a miss by Anthony that hushed the crowd. This pushed Miami’s lead back to five and Indiana wouldn’t be able to get any closer the remainder of the game.
One of the main reasons why Indiana wasn’t able to make a run to get back in the game is because West and Roy Hibbert spent most of the second half on the bench in foul trouble. This was in large part due to James attacking the defense and taking the contact on drives to the bucket.
In short, James was focused on getting Miami the win they would need to even this series at two games a piece. His stat line of 40 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks was nothing short of flawless.
It’s a shame that a large group of fans and members of the media will turn a blind eye to James being the reason why Miami was able to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.