The Los Angeles Lakers put together a much-improved showing in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, bouncing back from a bitter loss and beating the Miami Heat 102-96.
The game was close throughout, with L.A.’s nine-point lead in the fourth quarter their biggest of the game. In a contest this close, every play can have significant repercussions for the outcome.
Perhaps that is why Lakers head coach Frank Vogel used a coach’s challenge in the second quarter, something he had previously said he would rather avoid.
“I really prefer to save it for the second half, even the fourth quarter. Just to see what happens,” he explained last month. However, Vogel added he might not always end up using his coach’s challenge when relying on that strategy.
Of his three coach’s challenge in the NBA Finals thus far, two came in the second quarter and one in the first — in the 116-98 victory in Game 2. On Tuesday, Vogel sided with LeBron James who insisted he did not touch the ball when attempting to block Tyler Herro’s floater.
The review showed the three-time NBA champion was right and the referees gave the ball to the Lakers. “There’s certain momentum plays throughout the first half,” James explained the reasoning behind early challenges.
“There’s a certain rhythm that you have either offensively or defensively that if that call is made correctly, then you continue to stay in that zone, you continue to stay in that rhythm. And if the call is wrong, it can throw you off of your rhythm.
“We were defending at a high level, and we knew for sure, we knew 100%, because I was guarding the ball, I knew for sure I didn’t touch the ball. Herro tried to float it over me and it hit the backboard, then hit the wire.
“Coach is always kind of like 50-50 about it, and obviously as a player on the floor, you hate to tell your coach to challenge when you’re not 100%. But I was for sure 100% about that play.”
James welcomes extra day off before Game 5
Lakers and Heat players will have an extra day to rest as Game 5 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9.
And James, who seemed to have struggled with a groin problem late on Tuesday, will make sure to use it to the benefit of his body. “I can go every other day if that’s the case. But I’m going to take full advantage of it,” he said.
“(It) gives me an opportunity to continue to get my body right, my mind, everything in between. I’ll take full advantage of it, but it does nothing for me besides just getting a little extra day — I guess it does. I guess it does do some, but it’s not needed for me personally.”
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