Basketball

Fourth quarter is winning time: LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers maintained their remarkable fourth-quarter winning streak as they secured a Game 4 win over the Miami Heat yesterday morning (Singapore time) that left them on the brink of a 17th NBA crown.

The Lakers took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Finals series after holding off a physical Miami side in a hard-fought contest to close out a 102-96 win in Orlando.

The result extended the Lakers' record of remaining unbeaten this season whenever they have led going into the fourth quarter. The team is 56-0 when taking a lead into the home stretch.

"I think the fourth quarter, obviously it's winning time," Lakers star LeBron James said afterwards.

"You've got 12 minutes to buckle down defensively with the lead, kind of hold that lead, and then you have to execute offensively.

"That's the mindset for us. We've got 12 minutes. If we have the lead, it's our job to outscore the opponent or to hold them to (as many) points as us, which is the same exact thing, because if we win the quarter, we win the game. That's kind of been our mindset all year long."

James, who will win a fourth championship ring if the Lakers win one of the three remaining games in the series, is already looking forward to Game 5 on Saturday morning.

"I get so excited - like right now, I'm excited about our meeting tomorrow watching film and breaking that down and seeing things that we can do better," James told reporters.

"That's the best part about it. It's a chess match."

While James led the scoring with 28 points, the team's win came off of a Herculean defensive effort from Anthony Davis, who shut down Miami dangerman Jimmy Butler, who had 22 points, after a 40-point haul in Game 3.

"Jimmy is so great, it's hard to even slow him down but AD did a great job," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

Only once before in NBA Finals history has a team overturned a 3-1 deficit, when a James-inspired Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Golden State Warriors in 2016.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra remained bullish, saying: "Our guys love competition and love the challenge. We are here for a purpose. We never expected this to be easy." - AFP

Basketball