Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 4: LeBron James Struggles, Miami Falters In Fourth Quarter

Following Game 3 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James drew heat for "shrinking" in the spotlight and slinking away when his team needed him most, despite the Miami Heat pulling away for the fourth quarter win on Sunday. But instead of answering the critics and reminding the American public why he may just be the greatest active player in the game, LeBron had a forgettable night on Tuesday, making just three of 11 shots and scoring eight points on the night.

As Michael Smith notes, LeBron James accomplished a feat he hasn't in almost four and a half years on Tuesday night, and it wasn't a good one.

Folks, we really just witnessed history. That was the first time since Jan. 5, 2007 that LeBron James was held below double-digits.

Yes, LeBron does quite a few things that don't show up in the stat sheet, especially on the defensive end. But on Tuesday night, the Heat needed something down the stretch in the fourth quarter as the offense sputter. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had carried the team to that point, but both players sputtered, though Wade had an impressive series late with a block on one end and a lay-up on the other. LeBron was invisible, and did a better job blending into the background than he did taking over and showing assertiveness on the other end.

James' final line: 44 minutes, eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, 3-11 FG, 2-4 free throw. It's a nice all-around line, per say, but not what anyone has come to expect from LeBron. And it showed it showed in the Heat's performance, especially down the stretch.

It doesn't mean LeBron is dead, a non-factor or not a leader, but make no mistake about it, he had a bad game. And because he had a bad game, the criticism, reasonable or not, will reach deafening levels until the Heat take the court again on Thursday in Game 4.

For live coverage of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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