It's hard to say that someone didn't play great, no matter who it is, when they record a triple-double. But, when the Heat needed LeBron James the most, he wasn't able to convert, missing open shots and turning the ball over at a critical juncture in the game.
Don't get me wrong, LeBron played well. But the Heat needed something better than that from their superstar.
They needed James to play great.
With Dwayne Wade ailing, the Heat needed James to step into Wade's 'closer' role and close out the game. But in the fourth quarter, James was held scoreless until 29.6 seconds mark, shooting just one for four from the field.
The turning point of the game came from the 2:55 mark remaining in the fourth quarter until the 1:25 mark.
With the score knotted at 100, Miami ran a play for James to post up his defender, Jason Kidd, around the left elbow. With Kidd on him, and the shot clock running down, James missed an 18-foot jumper.
After a Dallas missed basket, James bricked a wide open three-pointer from the top of the arc.
Then, on the Mavericks' ensuing possession, Kidd hit a 24-foot three point jumper, which seemed to be the dagger, extending Dallas' lead to 105 -100.
Breaking down Miami's three possessions late in the fourth quarter:
James 0-2 FG (0-1 3PT) 1 turnover
At a crucial junction in the game, James settled for two perimeter jump shots rather than playing to his strength and driving to the rim.
Even though James was more aggressive in Game 5 than he was in Game 4, the Heat forward attempted only two foul shots.
For Miami to win Game 6 and Game 7, James must be much more aggressive in getting to the rim.
Here is a running diary of LeBron's performance in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals:
11:07: James quickly rips down two defense boards. He is already being much more aggressive than he was in Game 4 and is helping create shots for his teammates.
9:45: James drives in the paint and puts up a left-handed floater for an air ball, which leads to an easy transition basket for Tyson Chandler. (0-1 FG) 2 rebounds
8:45: James shoots a fadeaway jump shot from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down that grazes the left side of the rim. (0-2 FG) 2 rebounds
8:17: Off a made basket by Dallas, Wade throws a half-court inbound pass to James, which he finishes with a dunk over Kidd. (1-3 FG) 2 points 2 rebounds
6:45: Off a Dallas miss, James throws a full-court outlet pass to Wade that sails over his head and out of bounds for a Miami turnover.
6:05: LeBron bricks a wide open jumper at the top of the key. (1-4 FG) 2 points 2 rebounds
5:09: LeBron makes a great defensive by play timing Shawn Marion's shot and pinning it against the backboard.
3:33: LeBron drives into the paint, then makes a nice hook pass to Mike Miller for a three-pointer in the corner. (1-4 FG) 2 points 2 rebounds 1 assist
Wade goes back to locker room with 2:58 left in the first quarter. Let's see how LeBron responds. Maybe he will feel more comfortable now knowing that he is the go-to guy.
1:35: LeBron has the ball with 5 seconds left on the shot clock, but fails to make a play and passes it off to Chalmers, who is forced to take a well-contested shot.
End of the First Quarter: Miami 31, Dallas 30
James: 12 minutes (1-4 FG) 2 points 4 rebounds 3 assists 1 block and 2 turnovers
Reaction: James started the game off very aggressive, driving to the hoop and crashing the boards. It looked like Miami was making an effort to get James going early, but after he missed a few shots, he started to shy away from shooting and focused on getting his teammates open looks.
11:45: James easily posts up on DeShawn Stevenson, who is struggling to match LeBron's strength, and passes out to Bosh for a wide open foul line jumper. James rips down Bosh's miss over Stevenson and makes an easy layup (2-5 FG) 4 points
9:45: Off a Dallas miss, Chalmers feeds James who is sprinting toward the paint. James catches the ball in stride and drives it to the hoop for a nice left-handed layup. Then, on Miami James catches a pass along the baseline but misses a reverse layup. (3-7 FG) 6 points 5 rebounds 3 assists
Miami 40, Dallas 38 - Wade re-enters the game
8:52: James comes out of the game for the first time. At the point Miami is ahead by two points (40 - 38)
6:30: James re-enters the game for Chalmers.
Time out Miami 5:46 - Miami 50, Dallas 46
James is playing with a lot more aggression than he did in Game 4. He is constantly calling for the ball and is looking to make plays for his teammates. He still isn't shooting much, but he is driving and then kicking the ball out to shooters who are missing wide-open jumpers (Eddie House).
4:23: James runs around a nice screen by House and catches the ball under the rim and lays it in over Chandler. (4-8 FG) 8 points
2:58: James misses a wide-open three-point shot from the left wing off a great pass by Haslem. (4-9 FG) 8 points
2:17: James catches the ball deep in the paint and is fouled by Marion as he tries to spin toward the hoop. James makes 1 of 2 free throws – his first free throw attempts of the game – (4-9 FG) 9 points
:03: James bricks an uncontested three-pointer with time winding down (4-10 FG) 9 points
End of the First Half: Dallas 60, Miami 57
James: 22 minutes (4-10 FG)(0-2 3PT)(1-2 FT) 9 points 6 rebounds 4 assists
Reaction: James has already surpassed his points total from Game 4 and his aggression has led to a lot of open looks for his teammates.
Dallas is double-teaming James when he gets good position down-low, but James is doing a good job combating the double-team by finding his open teammates and getting the ball to them.
However, he still doesn't look confident in his shot. In fact, all of James' made field goals are either layups or dunks. For Miami to win this game, James will have to start knocking down mid-range shots.
(Wade not starting the third quarter)
11:40: James drives into the lane and kicks the ball out to Miller for an open three-pointer. Then, on the next Miami possession, James drives hard into his defender and kicks it out to Miller again for another open three.
9:03: James makes a nice shot over Nowitzki. Then, on Miami's next possession James drives hard to the hoop but misses a left-handed layup. (5-12 FG) 11 points
6:07: James makes a nice fadeaway 9-foot jumper along the right baseline over Nowitzki. (6-13 FG) 13 points
Dallas Timeout 5:59: Dallas 73, Miami 69
James is really getting in a rhythm. He looks like he is regaining confidence in his shot and seems more comfortable on the floor knowing that he is leader of the team with Wade in the locker room.
When he isn't taking a shot, James is creating open shots for his teammates. In addition, James is very active on the glass.
4:29: Wade comes out of the locker room and re-enters the game. Let's see if Wade's presence on the floor affects James' rhythm.
Miami Timeout 3:46: Dallas 80, Miami 71
James (6-13 FG) 13 points 7 rebounds 6 assists
3:26: Miami comes out of the timeout with a isolation play designed for James. James catches the ball at the left elbow and drills the jumper over Marion. (7-14 FG)
0:55: James catches the ball on the left elbow against Stevenson. Brian Cardinal immediately doubles James and forces him into a turnover.
0:02: James catches and then pulls up to shoot at the top of the lane, but Kidd strips the ball from him on James' way up.
End of third quarter
James (7-15) 15 points 7 rebounds 6 assists
Reaction: Wade hasn't done much since he re-entered the game at the 4:29 mark in the third quarter. However, neither did James, who attempted only two shots in the last 4:29. For Miami to win, James must have a great fourth quarter.
10:02: James feeds a wide-open Chris Bosh for an easy layup, cutting the Dallas lead to five (90-85).
7:43: With the shot clock winding down, James misses a three-pointer from the top of the key. (7-16 FG)(0-3 3PT)
7:05: On a three-on-two fast break, James rises up and then makes a great pass to an open Wade for a layup. (8 assists)
Miami Timeout 6:48: Dallas 95, Miami 90
James (7-16 FG)(0-3 3PT)(1-2 FT) 15 points 10 rebounds 8 assists
What shocks me is that James has attempted only two free throws thus far. Despite his aggressive play, James really hasn't taken it hard to the rim.
6:04: Off a Wade steal, James dishes the ball back to Wade for a fast break layup. This assist gives James a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Dallas Timeout 5:16: Dallas 95, Miami 96
2:56: With the shot clock winding down, James misses 18-foot pull up jumper over Kidd. (7-17 FG)
2:27: Wade penetrates, draws two defenders, and dishes it to James along the baseline who is called for an offensive foul. (Four TO)
1:50: James misses a wide-open three from the top of the arc. (7-18 FG)(0-4 3PT)
Miami Timeout 1:26: Dallas 105, Miami 100
0:29: James drives past Kidd for a layup. (8-19 FG) 17 points
Final: Dallas 112, Miami 103
James: (8-19 FG)(0-4 3PT)(1-2 FT) 17 points 10 rebounds 10 assists
James' fourth quarter performance: (1-4 FG) 2 points 3 rebounds 4 assists