Most of the focus entering the game was how James would rebound from a rough start in this series, but Wade freed the four-time most valuable player from the burden of carrying the Heat all alone. James still led all scorers with 33, but he collected a few against the Spurs’ reserves in the fourth quarter after Wade — who has been hampered by a bone bruise in his right knee for the past few months — already had wrapped up his first 30-point playoff game in more than a year. Center Chris Bosh also came along for the ride with 20 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“He was ’06 Flash,” James said of Wade, “and we needed every bit of it.”
Said Wade with a laugh: “I didn’t feel like 2006, but it felt good. I needed a game like this, but my teammates needed me to have a game like this.”
It was the first time this postseason that James, Wade and Bosh each scored at least 20 points in the same game, and the 85-point effort from the all-star trio ensured the series will head back to Miami. The Heat still hasn’t lost consecutive games since mid-January.
“It was on our shoulders,” James said. “We had to figure out to will a game for us, to play at the highest level. When all three of us are clicking at the same time, we’re a very tough team to beat.”
The Spurs’ three stars of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for just 40 points — an improvement from Game 3, when they only had 25 — but San Antonio was unable to get repeat performances from Danny Green and Gary Neal. After combining for 13 three-pointers and 51 points in San Antonio’s 113-77 shellacking of Miami two nights before, Green and Neal combined for just six three-pointers and 23 points for an encore.
“We understood adjustments were going to be made,” Duncan said. “They’re not going to let them run free and get as many shots off as they did in the game before that for obvious reasons. We just didn’t make enough plays. They played better than us.”
Parker’s availability was in question before the game as he dealt with a slight strain of his right hamstring, but he didn’t appear to have any problems early on, scoring or assisting on 12 of the Spurs’ first 15 points. But after scoring 15 points in the first half, Parker was held scoreless the rest of the way. He was unable to get into the lane, and the Spurs had fewer open looks. Duncan led the Spurs with 20 points.