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LeBron James Faults Heat Defense For Game 5 Loss To Mavericks

With all eyes on him, LeBron James went nearly the entire fourth quarter of the Miami Heat's crushing Game 5 loss to the Dallas Mavericks Thursday without a bucket. Until a near-throwaway score with time running out on Miami, LeBron had missed all three shots in the final frame. He did have four assists, though, and Miami's offense's was rather efficient until a few bad misses on some critical shots in the final two minutes. The Heat had a string of layups through the middle of the quarter, keeping Dallas on its heels.

In the post-game press conference, the first question lobbed at LeBron was on his performance in the fourth, and whether he felt pressure. After a quick denial that the pressure has gotten to him, LeBron immediately cited defense as the reason the Heat lost.

Dallas shot 6-14 (42 percent) in the fourth, but that undersells the stride the Mavericks reached. Four of those makes were three-pointers -- the Mavs shot 4-5 on threes in the fourth and 2-9 on two-pointers, a mind-boggling stat -- and Dallas also earned 13 free throws. Dallas had an offensive efficiency of 128 in the fourth, just a huge number given the excellent defense we've seen all series.

Miami shot 9-16 from the floor in the fourth, but only one of those makes was a three-pointer. The Heat hit 5-8 free throws, and had an offensive efficiency of 106 (average) in the fourth.

Obviously, then, Miami could have used a lot more offense. But without far better defense, it's not clear an extra few points from LeBron would have helped.

For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier.