Juwan Howard set the tone early. Miami was going to be aggressive, a message sent after Howard needed to be separated from Lance Stephenson in pregame shootaround. The Heat took offense after Stephenson’s choke sign in Game 3 and their own awful play. It just took a quarter and a half for the message to sink in for anyone not named LeBron. Even early, when tea leaf readers were looking for any sense of Miami’s psyche down 11-0, a dunk by King James (40 points, 18 boards, nine assists) through the lane seemed to show he wasn’t going to be blamed for not taking the game by the throat. After that, Miami’s “let’s throw the ball anywhere but to my teammate” act got tired. Apparently five turnovers in four minutes is enough. But for LeBron, it just continued with 19 in the first 24 minutes — and that’s when he picked up a sidekick. Dwyane Wade (30 points), whose jumper was put on a milk carton after Game 3 (2-of-13) and then a start of 3-of-10 Sunday, regained his form. We’re not sure if it was an off-day visit to his college coach, Tom Crean, or a killer’s glare (or just a terrified-for-my-legacy look) in LeBron’s eyes that started it, but the pair went off for 38 straight Miami points. Twenty-eight of Miami’s 30 in the third quarter, too. … Udonis Haslem had some kind of superhero thing going on in the fourth after getting cut above the right eye. When he sat out a possession and they stanched the bleeding, he came in to drop a couple silky 15-foot, and 16-foot jumpers to keep Miami a comfortable two possessions ahead. He was enormous with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and showed the toughness Roy Hibbert (10 points, nine boards) should have. Indiana’s big man sputtered worse than an inexperienced stick-shift driver after foul trouble. Those pin-and-hook jumpers from 10 feet or less weren’t falling like they had been in Indianapolis and took away the one definite matchup advantage the Pacers have. … At one point the announcer said the Pacers hadn’t played in a Sunday afternoon TV slot since 2005. That goes a little toward explaining how frail Indiana looked up 10 in the third, a vise grip of a 3-1 lead nearing their hand. Danny Granger (20 points) again got in a Heat player’s face, this time Wade, in a show of “I know what I’m doing!” It looked like the same front he put up on LeBron in Game 3, except this time that chair had no leg to stand on with LBJ and Wade going berserk, with the latter dropping 11 straight buckets. … Leandro Barbosa dove for a loose ball in front of the Pacers’ bench with under seven minutes left in the fourth and didn’t get the possession but kicked Dahntay Jones in the face to boot (no pun intended). Talk about a lose-lose situation. Making it funnier was the whole reason Jones stood up was to avoid getting hit in the first place. Also seen in that stretch: Indiana assistant Brian Shaw‘s baby-blue suit that looked like it came from the Craig Sager collection. … Hit the jump to hear how CP3’s late magic ran out.
In Hollywood there are certain cliches to live by, and the hero’s journey is one. Every great story has a beginning, rising action and finish but anyone aware of those three things who has watched the Clippers-Spurs series knows one thing has been missing: The middle. There just wasn’t much of a challenge all series and though Game 4 was the best of the whole thing, the ending was nothing shocking. The Spurs swept in four, winning 102-99, which makes them 29-2 in their last 31, which is filthier than an off-color joke by Donald Sterling. Chris Paul (23 points, 11 boards) was the unquestioned man to give the ball to late in every game this season, but his magic ran out when two drives in the last 30 seconds ended with him awkwardly hanging in the air, unable to find a teammate or a clear shot to the cup. The first was a bizarre reverse wrap-around kickout that went straight to a Spur. … Gregg Popovich gave a huge hug to Paul after the game and we’ve got to think he was telling him, “Great job/glad I don’t have to face you again.” Or maybe he was asking him how he hit that absurd shot off the top of the backboard that bounced three times. … Another problem was Paul couldn’t get after Tony Parker (17 points, five assists, six turnovers) on D late in the game with his legs gone. LAC went to Eric Bledsoe (17 points in 26 minutes), but Timmy D (21 points, nine boards) found TP on the block on a reverse high-lo dime. The next time down Randy Foye was game enough to try Parker, who lifted a teardrop floater from six feet to go up five. Twenty-eight dimes on 38 field goals is damn good but just par for San Antonio lately. … Blake Griffin (21 points, five boards) saw what worked for Haslem in the day’s first game and balled out after getting cut open, too. One of his teeth went through his upper lip off a hit from Manu Ginobili‘s shoulder, so he got some stitches. Then he cut into the San Antonio lead with a dunk and a jumper and set it up for a fourth quarter we actually wanted to watch in this series. … Speaking of the Clips’ bigs, did DeAndre Jordan get a clause in his new contract in the offseason that he doesn’t have to play in the last five minutes? … We’re out like Indiana’s home-court advantage.
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