SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Miami Heat owner Micky Arison had a message as he walked to the winning locker room.
“The death of the Big Three was overrated,” he said.
Sure was. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his three prized players, are just fine.
So are the Heat’s championship hopes.
Riding big performances from their three All-Stars, the Heat tied the NBA Finals with a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night in Game 4.
“It was on our shoulders,” James said. “We had to figure out how to win the game for us and play at the highest level. When all three of us are clicking we’re very tough to beat.”
James had 33 points and 11 rebounds after failing to break 20 points in any of the first three games of the series, and Wade scored 32 points, 11 more than his previous high this postseason.
Bosh matched his playoff high with 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, he and Wade supplying the baskets that finally put the Spurs away for good midway through the fourth quarter.
Three players, 85 points. Just the way the Heat envisioned it when they signed James and Bosh to play with Wade in 2010.
“When Bosh, Wade and James score the way they did tonight and shoot it the way they did tonight, a team is going to have a difficult time if you help them like we did,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
“When those guys are playing like that, you better be playing a perfect game.”
The Spurs weren’t, committing 19 turnovers that led to 23 points.
And just like they have for the last five months, the Heat bounced back from a loss with a victory. They are 12-0 after defeats since Jan. 10, outscoring opponents by an average of nearly 20 points in the previous 11 victories.
Tim Duncan scored 20 points for the Spurs, who have one more game here on Sunday. They fell to 10-3 at home all-time in the finals, failing to back up their 113-77 victory in Game 3 that was the third-most lopsided score in the history of the championship series.
James insisted he would be better after shooting 7 of 21 from the field with no free throws in that game, saying he was the star and it was his job to lead his team. He was 15 of 25 on Thursday.
But while James — and millions of critics worldwide — wanted to pile all the pressure on the league’s MVP, it was Wade on Wednesday who said it was the Heat’s three All-Stars who had to lead them together, or there would be no championship.
He was right. And now those championship hopes are right back on track.
“It was all about myself, Chris and LeBron coming out and leading this team to a victory,” Wade said.
“The thing we talked about is we all have to make an impact in this game, somehow, some way.”