Posted June 12, 2013

Heat’s LeBron James: ‘I played like s—’ in Game 3 loss to Spurs

2013 NBA Finals, Ben Golliver, Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs
(Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

LeBron James vowed to pick up his play in Game 4 of the Finals. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO — LeBron James went to a strange, moody, almost self-loathing place Wednesday, one day after the Heat were blown out by the Spurs 113-77 in Game 3 of the Finals.

The 2013 MVP, who took full responsibility for the loss in his post-game comments Tuesday, repeatedly tapped on the press room table, perhaps expelling some nervous energy, before ripping apart his own performance in Game 3.

“I played like s—,” James said.

There was plenty for James not to like about his play on Tuesday. He shot just 7-for-21 from the field and didn’t attempt a single free throw, just the second time that’s happened during a playoff game during his career.

“You can’t have both of them,” James said, referring to his poor shooting numbers and his lack of free throw attempts. “If you can go 7‑for‑21, but you get to the free‑throw line 10‑plus times, you’re being aggressive. You have to be able to shoot the ball high clip from the field if you’re not going to the free‑throw line. You can’t have both. It’s impossible for me to go 7‑for‑21, shoot 33 percent from the field and not have free throws. You have to figure out ways offensively that you can make an impact.”

Outside of a strong flourish in the third quarter, James looked uncertain as to how he should attack a San Antonio defense that regularly sagged off of him, thereby conceding jumpers and denying him driving and passing lanes.

“I don’t believe I was settling,” James said, after hitting just two of his 14 attempts outside the paint. “I think I took the shots that was there. I had some really good looks that didn’t go down. But I just didn’t get to the free‑throw line.  I can’t allow that to happen.  I have to try to put more pressure on the defense.  Not saying the whistle is going to be blown, putting pressure on their defensive interior and for myself to kick it out for my guys to have to do that. That’s what I was brought here to do. And it can’t be anything less than that.”

Besides Mike Miller, who hit all five of his three-pointers, Miami made just three of 13 three-pointers. The Heat’s 77 points tied their season-low output. Although Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh continue to struggle, James repeated his assertion from Tuesday night that the Game 3 loss was squarely on his shoulders, and he seemed to advance his “Going back to my Cleveland days” line from the Eastern Conference finals again.

“I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates,” he said. “But I am the star, I am the leader. And they look at me to do things on the court, to make plays, and if I’m not doing it, I’m not doing my job.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, as you might expect, held a contrasting viewpoint.

“No, it’s not all on him, it’s all of us,” Spoelstra said. “That’s what we talked about in there. Every single player in that locker room, the guys that played and what they brought to the game and the staff and what we brought to that game. All of us collectively need to do a better job [Thursday] night. That’s our focus the next 24 hours.”

James has yet to score more than 18 points in the Finals against the Spurs and he’s shooting just 38.9 percent through three games, way off his regular season mark of 56.5 percent and down from his postseason mark of 49.4 percent. Meanwhile, Miami is now 4-5 in their last nine games, dating back to the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers, after going 37-2 to close the regular season. James admitted Wednesday that his struggles in Game 3 were reflected in his somber post-game comments.

“As dark as it was last night, can’t get no darker than that, especially for me,” James said.”If you see my [post-game] comments and you see my interview, it’ll let you know it was weighing heavily on me, right after getting blown out in a Finals game. So it was weighing heavily on me. With my performance, I didn’t particularly care for myself at that point in time. So obviously it was in my head.”

Even still, Dwyane Wade maintained he was not concerned about James being able to pick up his play and the Heat as a whole.

“We’re not worried about LeBron,” Wade said. “He’s going to find his way. He’s going to get in a groove. As teammates you try to figure out a way to get him an easy basket in a breakout, try to get it back to him, get a lay‑up, so he can see the ball go in. As a scorer you need to see it go in. Besides that we’re not concerned about him at all.”

Before taking off for the practice court with his red warm-up jersey hanging off the back of his neck like a cape, James pledged that his struggles would subside when the Finals continue with Game 4 at the AT&T Center on Thursday.

“I guarantee I’ll be better [Thursday] for sure,” he promised. “I’ll be better. I’ll be much better than [Tuesday] night.”

Video via YouTube user cubanmark301 | Hat tip: The Big Lead

5 comments
JeffBlock
JeffBlock

It's funny to see how frustrated Lebron James is offensively against the Spurs. First and foremost the Spurs aren't fouling on drives (although if the Pacers series is any indication eventually Lebron will get to the line). Secondly the Spurs have simply unmasked the Miami Heat smoke and mirrors of Lebron's improved shooting percentages. Lebron has shot a career best this year because of shot selection, spot-ups, and moderate post play. To each of these components the Spurs have built a way to force Lebron outside and limit his efficiency. They aren't allowing drives to the rim, they are forcing Lebron from spotting up and crowding him till he puts the ball on the floor, as well as utilizing the length of Kawhi Leonard in the post. The reality is once Lebron begins to dribble he is a below average jump shooter and often even settles for Josh Smith-esque two foot jumpers one step within the 3 point line. Unless he gets to the free throw line or the rim in game 4, I honestly don't expect the results to be any different.

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michael.f.passe
michael.f.passe

LeBron is a fine player but jeez, is it possible to perhaps credit your opponent for some of those difficulties you are having? Is it possible that San Antonio's team concept is difficult for the Heat's one-on-one style to deal with? I don't know how many times LeBron says "I" in a typical interview, but I think the Heat in general could learn something from the "us" of San Antonio. Other than the fourth quarter of game two, so far the hard-working, humble Spurs have simply out-worked the Heat. This series is far from over - road teams often steal the second of three in the NBA's 2-3-2 championship series format. But if the Heat are to send this series back to Miami they are going to have to stop thinking in terms of "me me me" and start working as hard as the Spurs.

marc.alexandro.b
marc.alexandro.b

I am getting sick of sports media, every day it is: Lebron, Lebron, why are the Heats' big 3 not playing good, Lebron, Lebron, why are the Heats' big 3 not playing good, Lebron, Lebron...

I understand they are stars of massive magnitude and I imagine if the Heat lose the series there will be little talk of the SPurs greatness and more of why Lebron and company failed.

Camon, Golliver, Thomsen, Mannix, write somethin bout how Gary Neal came from nowhere, how Green was  cut twice by the Spurs, hell write about the Heats' others! Damn it, there is more then the Big 3's and there is potential for truly great journalism here. 

Someone reply to me and tell me a decent sports journalist or website where I can find good articles. ESPN, Yahoo Sports, CBS NBA, SI all fail 

nata1
nata1

@marc.alexandro.b

You are SOOO right! I am a HEAT fan, but generally disgusted by the simplistic  reporting and hero-worship. Players from the bench and coaching decisions have been key factors in the victories. Even the on-air reporting has been mediocre in the finals, with the exception of Magic Johnson.