Print and Go Back ESPN.com: TrueHoop [Print without images]

Friday, June 10, 2011
LeBron disappearing in crunch time

By ESPN Stats & Info

With 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists last night, LeBron James posted his seventh playoff triple-double, his second in a losing effort.

It was the first Finals triple-double for James, who is the fifth losing player with a triple-double in the Finals, joining a Hall-of-Fame list with Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Despite playing 46 minutes and putting up a triple-double, James struggled in Game 5, particularly with Dwyane Wade on the court. In the 31 minutes he played with Wade, James scored nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. In 14 minutes without Wade, James hit 4-of-6 shots and had eight points.

Adding Chris Bosh to the mix made things worse for the Miami Heat. He played 26 minutes with both James and Wade on the court, and Miami had a points differential of -14 in that time. Without Wade, the Heat were outscored by a single point with James and Bosh on the floor. During the three minutes when James was the sole member of the trio in the game, Miami outscored Dallas by five points.

Regardless of who is on the floor in the Finals, James has struggled in the fourth quarter, scoring a total of 11 points. His average of 2.2 fourth-quarter points per game in the Finals is far below his average of 7.6 points in the first three rounds.

Despite playing all 24 minutes in the fourth quarter of Games 4 and 5, James had only two total points, making him Miami’s fifth-leading scorer in that span, trailing Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, along with Wade and Bosh. James does have half of the team’s five assists in the last two fourth quarters.

Perhaps most startling of all is LeBron James’ crunch-time absence in a series that has seen all five games decided late. When the score has been within five points in the last five minutes, James has yet to score in the series, missing all seven shots. Those numbers contrast sharply with Dirk Nowitzki's 26 crunch-time points on 8-13 shooting, not to mention the 34-point difference in plus-minus.