With under 2 minutes left to play in Game 4 of their playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat seemed to have all but locked up a series sweep. Miami led 86-82 with 1:35 remaining, despite shooting just 41% to that point.
But then the Sixers caught fire, closing the game with a 10-run in the final 82 seconds to eke out a 86-82 victory. Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams hit back-to-back three pointers to give Philadelphia the late lead.
Miami missed all four shots it attempted during the final 1:35, including a LeBron James jumper that would have tied the game at 84 with 3.8 seconds to go. Philadelphia's Elton Brand was credited with a block on the play.
Dwyane Wade also missed a shot with 28 seconds to go that would have extended Miami's tenuous lead. Having won the first three games of the series without needing any late-game heroics, the Heat's detractors will surely once again ask whether the team has the mettle to pull out a victory in the closing seconds.
As they did in Games 1 and 3, the Sixers came out of the gate running, amassing a quick 16-point lead and closing the first quarter ahead 28-16.
But for the fourth time in the series, Miami dominated the second quarter, going on a 22-2 run at one point to take a 47-46 lead into halftime.
The exciting fourth-quarter finish belied what had been an ugly second half. Philadelphia shot 36% during the half, which only looked good when compared to Miami's 30% shooting.
While Philadelphia had five players score in double-figures, Miami failed to get much of a spark from anyone not named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Wade and James combined for 53 points, while the rest of the team could only muster 29 points while shooting 10 for 27 from the field.
Chris Bosh struggled on offense, going 5 for 12 with 12 points, while fellow starters Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were quite ineffective. The Heat were outscored by 18 when Big Z was on the floor and 15 when Bibby was playing.
Miami will get three days to regroup and figure out how to fix their sloppy play. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Miami.
David Hill is a Miami native and former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.