LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Anthony Davis punched his chest in celebration. LeBron James let out a huge scream.
The Los Angeles Lakers are on the cusp of what they want most — the franchise’s first championship in 10 years.
Davis’s 3-pointer with 39.5 seconds left was the backbreaker, James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat, 102-96, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
The Lakers lead, 3-1, and can win the title when the series resumes Friday.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 and Danny Green added 10 for the Lakers, who didn’t trail at any point in the final 20-plus minutes. Davis’s 3-pointer in the final minute made it 100-91, starting the celebration that took the Lakers all night to earn.
“Felt like a finals game,” James said. “Felt like both teams were desperate ... and that’s what it’s all about.”
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points for Miami, which got 21 from Tyler Herro, 17 from Duncan Robinson and 15 from Bam Adebayo — who returned after missing two games with a neck injury.
James’s 3-pointer with 8:18 left in the third put the Lakers up, 55-54, and set the tone for the way the rest of the night was going to go; LA leading, Miami chasing.
The Lakers were up by 7 with 2:27 left in the third after a 3-pointer by Davis — the 71-64 margin representing the biggest by either side to that point. Miami scored the next 6 to get within 1, yet couldn’t get back on top, a trend that persisted into the fourth.
Herro made a 3 early in the fourth to get Miami within 1 again; the Heat promptly fouled Markieff Morris on a 3-point try, and he made all three shots. Butler scored inside to tie the game with 6:27 left; James scored the next 5 points, including a 3-point play where he ended up flat on his back after spinning the ball perfectly off the glass for a score on a drive while taking contact.
A bounce here, a bounce there. Those were the differences late, and the Lakers made their own breaks.
Butler had a corner 3 that would have given Miami the lead rim out with 3:05 left; Caldwell-Pope made a corner 3 at the other end seven seconds later and the Lakers were up 93-88. Miami then turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation; Caldwell-Pope scored on a drive for a seven-point lead.
“The job is not done,” James said.
Not yet. But they’re on the verge.