USER: Password: Forgot Password?

June 20, 2012

Miami Heat takes a 3-1 lead over the OKC Thunder

The series returns to Oklahoma for game 5 on Thursday night. The Thunder needs a win to stay alive.

By Stephen Lars

It took everything that LeBron James had to offer, and then a little extra to slow down the Oklahoma City Thunder’s point guard Russell Westbrook. He had one of the finest top-three performances we have seen on the NBA Finals in the last quarter of a century and yet it was not enough to keep Miami from winning 98-104 at South Beach and take a 3-1 lead in the 2012 NBA Finals. LeBron James body literally just shot down on him. A limping James shook off the pain of left leg cramps to hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:51 remaining. The Miami Heat held off the Oklahoma City Thunder, took the lead and never looked back.

The Miami Heat held off the Oklahoma City Thunder, took the lead and never looked back.

It’s going to be hard to assess Russell Westbrook’s performances last night against the Miami Heat. On the one side, Westbrook finished the night with 43 points and 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Next to Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 28 points and 3 assists, these two were the only Oklahoma City Thunder players to score in the last 16 minutes of the game. But it was Westbrook’s performance as a scorer and his solid work as a point guard that kept the Thunder in the game even when they blew up an early 17-point lead.

This is by far Russell’s best performance in the Playoffs. As a matter of fact, the only other players to reach each of those totals (points, rebounds, assists) in a Finals game in the last 25 seasons are Michael Jordan in Game 3 1993 and Shaquille O'Neal in Game 1 2001. Then again, he lost concentration late in the fourth quarter and fouled Mario Chalmers as the shooting clock was winding up and gave the Heat two easy points that turned this game into a two-possession match in the final minute of the game.

The Heat proved that they really have what it takes to finally give LeBron James his first NBA Championship ring. Mario Chalmers finished off a stellar 25-point effort, bringing his scoring up as James had to sit down with sever cramps in his left leg. Dwayne Wade chipped in with 25 points and 5 rebounds while LeBron James had 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Had he been able to play the last minutes of the game, he would have had a chance to complete a triple-double. "He was hurting," teammate Dwyane Wade said about James. "But that's what it's about this time of the year. It would hurt more if we lose the ballgame, so it feels a little better if you can win it." Chris Bosh rounded up this performance with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

"Obviously LeBron James is one of the most dominant players in the game, and he explodes many nights scoring-wise. But we've always got his back, and certain nights like tonight when he wasn't feeling his greatest, you have guys like Mario Chalmers step up, big plays, big moments," said Wade in the postgame conference. "That's what this team is built on, and that's the reason we're playing together."

About the Author

Stephen Lars is a prominent sports blogger and currently covers the Sports news, previews and handicaps for the BetIAS Sportsbook. You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.