SAN ANTONIO — What happened: Miami’s Big Three are back.
At least they were Thursday night
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had their best combined outing in awhile. It came when the Heat were in dire need of a victory, and they got one at the AT&T Center. The 109-93 triumph tied the NBA Finals 2-2.
James had 33 points, Wade had 32 and Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Heat made up for an embarrassing 113-77 loss in Tuesday’s Game 3. They assured that the series will return to Miami for a Game 6 next Tuesday.
With James having struggled offensively, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra shook up his lineup by starting swingman Mike Miller over power forward Udonis Haslem. The thinking was to spread out the floor due to having another shooter on the floor in Miller.
The move actually didn’t end up making that much of a difference. The Heat fell behind 15-5 to start the game and Miller finished with night scoreless.
What made the difference was the grit of the Big Three. Their determined play allowed the Heat to still not have lost two straight games since Jan. 8 and 10.
The Heat also stepped up their defense, limiting the Spurs to 16 3-point range attempts a game after San Antonio went 16 of 32 in Game 3. Forward Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 20 points.
The turning point: With the Spurs up 58-56 early in the third quarter, the Heat went on an 18-8 run to take a 74-66 lead late in the quarter. They key to the run was a strong defense.
The Heat never lost the lead. They went up by as as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
The difference maker: James vowed to step up after a lackluster Game 3 and he did. But the biggest difference was made by Wade, who has been hampered throughout the postseason by a bone bruise on his right knee.
Wade looked like his old self. He easily eclipsed 21 points for the best outing he has had so far in these playoffs.
Wade played an all-around game. He also had six rebounds, four assists and six steals.
What it means: This will be a long series. And it could be a classic.
Just as the Heat had a must-win situation in Game 4, the Spurs will have one in Game 5. If they lose, it will be very difficult to go to Miami and win twice.
Now, it will be the Spurs’ turn to make adjustments. They will have two days off before Game 5 to do so.
What’s next: Game 5 of the series is at 8 p.m. Sunday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.