LeBron James carries Heat to 3-1 series lead over Nets
The Nets didn’t necessarily regret allowing LeBron James to dominate Game 4 offensively, especially since they were not getting blown out.
Their biggest lament was a series of miscommunications on defense down the stretch that eventually culminated with Chris Bosh hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining in a 102-96 loss in Game 4 to push the Nets to the brink of elimination.
“We had our chances,” Kevin Garnett said. “When we’re at home, we want some chances to win and I thought we had chances. It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to swallow. It’s hard to take but it is what it is.”
The Nets face an elimination game in Miami on Wednesday, the kind of game the Nets imported Garnett and Pierce from Boston for. The Nets won one in Toronto eight days ago but that was not against the two-time defending champions and best player on the planet.
James finished with 49 points as he made 16-of-24 shots and went to the line 19 times. He set the tone with a 25-point first half and had 40 points through three quarters.
But the Nets rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to get within three after 36 minutes.
The problem was what happened in the final 4:25. Instead of expanding on a 90-89 lead that Paul Pierce provided with a breathtaking one-handed finger roll around Ray Allen, the Nets missed seven of their final eight shots.
It was during the final minute that the Nets defense allowed James to drag a double team on a pick-and-roll through the low post. James kicked it out to Mario Chalmers, who caught the pass as Deron Williams was late to cover.
As Williams and Joe Johnson scrambled to follow Chalmers’ pass to Bosh, Garnett tried to close out. But by the time he reached the corner near the Net bench, the ball had been released and was on its way in.
“Just simple, LeBron slipped a pick-and-roll and had the layup,” Garnett said. “I’m the bottom and I’m responsible for the bottom and I recovered and stopped the basketball. They just moved the basketball and he hit a shot.”
“We drew up a great play with LeBron being aggressive, getting to the rim and collapsing the defense, which made it a little easier for me to catch and shoot,” Bosh said.
Joe Johnson missed a step-back jumper with 40.9 seconds remaining, which sealed the loss for the Nets.
“As soon as it got to [Chalmers], I knew it was going to be good from [Bosh],” James said. “He’s big time and his ability to shoot the ball is a great equalizer for our team.”
The Nets might not have been in that predicament had they executed better leading up to the Bosh make. Shaun Livingston missed a layup, Williams held the ball too long for a shot-clock violation and the Brooklyn point guard missed a reverse layup.
“We had a lot of breakdowns and it cost us,” Williams said.
With the game tied at 94-94, Garnett missed a pull-up 17-footer while Joe Johnson missed a turnaround fade away despite Johnson wanting a foul for James flopping.
“I should have known they wouldn’t call a foul but I went into my shot anyway, so I had plenty of time,” Johnson said.
“We got the ball to our best player and he got some good looks,” Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. “They just didn’t go down.”
Flop or not, it was a regrettable sequence for the Nets, whose next home game might be in October.
“It’s very disappointing,” Johnson said. “We let one get away on hour home floor.”
After shooting 15-of-25 from 3-point range in Game 3, the Nets were 5-of-22 in Game 4. They missed all six attempts in the fourth quarter and their final eight 3-point shots total.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.