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A limping LeBron James delivered a heroic performance to earn Miami Heat a 104-98 victory over Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena on Tuesday night. The Heat now lead the series 3-1 and stand a win away from their second NBA title. In a dramatic finish to the game, James overcame cramps to his left leg to sink a crucial three-pointer with the scores tied at 94 apiece and two minutes 50 seconds left on the clock. It proved to be a blow the Thunder failed to recover from as Miami went on seal their third straight win.
The mercurial James finished with 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds while Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each contributed 25 points. But once again, the visitors will be left with much to regret after a strong start to the game which at one point saw Thunder hold a 17-point cushion in the first half. Russell Westbrook led The Thunder's charge right through the night and finished with 43 points which included 20 made field goals from 32 attempts â€“ the most in an NBA game over the last two seasons. Westbrook's teammate, Kevin Durant, had 28 points to show for his efforts in the losing cause.
The Thunder converted six of their first seven shots in a 13-3 run and steadily consolidated their early advantage to lead 33-16. However, Miami soon found their stride as a three-pointer from Norris Cole at the end of the first quarter followed by another to start the second kicked off a splendid 16-0 spreefor the home side.
Oklahoma held on to a 49-46 advantage going into the breather but lost their way thereafter as James and the Heat took over. The powerfully built forward picked up his injury as he drove to the basket and stumbled to the floor midway through the fourth quarter. He was carried off the court but returned to aid his team's cause with four minutes left to a rousing reception from the home fans. Then arrived his moment of magic as his mobility visibly restricted, he opted for a three-pointer and drilled it.
Miami host Game 5 on Thursday night and will be hoping their star man, who is seeking his first championship ring, will be back fully fit to help them get the job done.
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