Heat beat Thunder to move one win from NBA title
By Larry Fine
MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Heat moved within one win of claiming the NBA title after getting a rousing performance from unheralded guard Mario Chalmers to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-98 on Tuesday for a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
The Heat, who lost last year's championship in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, closed in on the title by playing with a fierce determination that extended beyond their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
"We're focused. We're thinking about Game Five right now," said Bosh, all business after the exciting victory on their home court.
Stalwarts James and Wade made crucial plays down the stretch, but it was Chalmers who supplied the steady firepower that enabled the Heat to hold off the Thunder, who got a sensational effort from Russell Westbrook, who scored 43 points.
"I just try to step up," said Chalmers, who shot 9-of-15 from the floor including 4-of-5 in the fourth quarter. "I've always been a person to try to step up in big moments, and what bigger moment besides tonight and Thursday to step up."
James, after going to the bench late in the fourth quarter with cramping in his legs, returned to hit a key three-pointer that snapped a 94-94 tie and Wade followed with a bold drive to the hoop to put Miami five points ahead.
Lifting the Heat all through the fourth quarter was Chalmers, who scored 12 of his 25 points in the last period.
"Mario Chalmers is a winner, he's shown it his whole life," said Wade, who also had 25 points, one fewer than James, who watched the last minute from the bench nursing his aching legs. Continued...