MIAMI (Reuters) - The visiting San Antonio Spurs dominated the Miami Heat again, crushing the two-time defending champions 107-86 in Game Four of the NBA Finals on Thursday to move within one victory of clinching the championship.
The one-sided win gave the Spurs, who routed the Heat by 19 points in Game Three in Miami, a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals and put them in position to claim a fifth championship in 15 years when the series shifts to San Antonio for Game Five on Sunday.
Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio’s balanced, ball-sharing attack with 20 points along with 14 rebounds and Tony Parker added 19 points as all 13 players on the roster joined in the scoring spree for the Spurs, who led 55-36 at the intermission.
James, a shadow of himself during the first half, came alive in the third quarter in scoring 19 of Miami’s 21 points but it was not enough to slow the dazzling Spurs.
Four-time NBA most valuable player James led the Heat with 28 points, with Chris Bosh next highest with 12.
San Antonio put on a sensational offensive show in Game Three by shooting an NBA Finals record of 76 percent in the first half of that runaway road win.
On Thursday, they put themselves in position to avenge last year’s agonizing, seven-game finals loss to Miami with another sublime display of ball movement and motion that produced wide open three-point chances and open layups and dunks.
The Spurs led by nine after the first quarter, by 19 at the half and by 24 heading into the fourth quarter.
Two other less heralded Spurs stood out through their contributions.
Australian backup guard Patty Mills scored 14 points, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and France’s Boris Diaw had a great all-round game with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
It would take a record comeback for Miami to claim a third successive NBA crown. No team has ever prevailed in the NBA finals after falling behind 3-1.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Ian Ransom