Does the world owe Gregg Doyel an apology? Following Miami’s Game 3 victory over Dallas on Sunday night, Doyel, a columnist for CBSSports.com, had the audacity to ask Miami’s LeBron James why he seemed to be “shrinking” in the fourth quarter in the Finals, a term which he later told us he should not have used, especially immediately following a Miami victory. Photos From The Game
The question came after a Heat win in which James had done it all….except score in the final period. Miami prevailed anyway and the question seemed inappropriate at best, given what James does with and without the ball at both ends of the floor. Two days later, it’s no longer a bad question. James went scoreless in the fourth quarter of Game 4, taking and missing one shot, did not get to the free throw line even once the entire game, and scored only eight points, failing to reach double-digits for the first time in 90 career playoff games; no small factor in the Maverick’s 86-83 victory that evened the series at 2 wins apiece. Game 5 is Thursday night in Dallas.
Four games into this best-of-seven affair and “The King” has scored a grand total of nine points over 48 minutes worth of 4th quarter play. Ouch. To be fair, James was not a total non-factor in Game 4, pulling down nine rebounds, dishing out seven assists and coming up with two steals while playing his usual tenacious defense.
However, last night he was outscored by five different Mavericks, including Jason Terry, who backed up his seemingly ridiculous “calling-out” of James by completely outplaying him. Shawn Marion? Tyson Chandler? DeShawn Stevenson? They all scored more than James, as did Dirk Nowitzki, who shrugged off a lethargic first three quarters to score 10 of his 21 points in the 4th period, elevating his team once again.
Nowitzki needed scoring help from his supporting cast, and after rolling out of bed Tuesday morning with a sinus infection and 101-degree fever, he REALLY needed help. And he got it. With five Mavs in double figures and only Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh exceeding James’ eight points, Dallas got it done.
Once again, points off turnovers were a huge factor, but this time Dallas turned the tables by commiting just 11 while scoring 18 points of their own off 13 Miami miscues.
The best part about the Finals has been how closely each game has been contested. I expect more of the same as it now boils down to a best-of-three series with Miami potentially hosting two more games. It’s been about both stars and role players stepping up at both ends of the court with the game on the line in the final moments. Great stuff. Compelling drama. Clutch plays and, yes….shrinkage. Let’s not forget that in both of the Maverick’s losses so far, Terry has gone scoreless in the 4th period. It seems inevitable that over the course of the next few days, there will be more heroes and more goats. It should be a lot of fun finding out who’s who. Stealing a line from New York Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott….”Can’t wait!!”