It began, inauspiciously but appropriately, with a Chris Bosh turnover.
That would be a harbinger of a night of incompetence.
The Heat’s defensive deficiencies in Game 4? Hardly surprising, considering the lapses and miscues we witnessed the first three games of these Finals.
But this dreadful display on offense — 12 for 34 first-half shooting (35.3 percent) , 45 percent for the game — was unexpected and uncharacteristic, considering the Heat shot 50.5 percent in the first three games of this series and this season became the first team since the 2007-08 Phoenix Suns to make at least half its shots.
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In Game 4, Heat players couldn’t stick open threes. They couldn’t finish in the paint (4 for 15 in the first half). They looked rushed, sloppy and disjointed offensively. They closed with as many turnovers as assists (13).
“We got great, great shots and just missed,” Bosh said. “Dwyane [Wade] and LeBron [James] missed a couple of layups. Ray Allen missed a couple open threes. That’s what’s tough about this. … It’s jarring. I didn’t expect this at all. It’s discouraging. They are taking us out of everything we’re doing.”
Carmelo Anthony, please pick up the white courtesy telephone. But you will need to leave $40 million-plus on the table over the next four years if you want to hook up with your buddy James in Miami. And if Anthony — who would help only offensively — proves an unrealistic target, a young, athletic, affordable wing player is sorely needed.
• Playing his third game in five nights, Wade looked sluggish and diminished, in no way resembling the player who was usually efficient when healthy this season, the one who tied Otis Birdsong for the highest shooting percentage by a starting two-guard in a single season since the NBA implemented the three-point shot in 1979.
Wade, whose mid-range game was immaculate all season, missed a bunch of makeable shots (1 for 7 in the paint in the first half), lacked lift and opened 1 for 10 before closing 3 for 13, with three turnovers, on a 10-point night.
• As for James, he too often settled for jump shots in the first half, with an 18.4-foot average shot distance, compared with less than 11 feet in the first three games. He attacked more in a 19-point third quarter but received precious little support.
• Mario Chalmers? Instead of benching him for extended awfulness, Erik Spoelstra instead stuck with him a bit longer than usual in the first quarter. But Chalmers was again dominated by Tony Parker.
Consider that Chalmers entered Game 4 as the first starter in 30 years to play at least 50 minutes, score 10 points or fewer and shoot 25 percent over the first three games of an NBA Finals.
Rashard Lewis? A forgettable night: 1-for-4 shooting in 16 minutes. Spoelstra replaced him with Ray Allen to start the second half.
Bosh? He opened 3 for 4 in the first quarter, then shot 2 for 7 the rest of the night, finishing with an underwhelming 12 points and four boards.
• Even Chris Andersen, who shot 64 percent during the season, seems to lose his ability to finish around the basket when he plays the Spurs. He was 1 for 4 Thursday and is 3 for 11 in the series.
Other observations from Game 4:
• Bosh’s assessment afterward: “We need to go home and do some soul-searching and get it together. If anybody can do this, it’s us. This is adversity in all caps. If a guy has a single bit of doubt, he doesn’t belong here.”
• It’s regrettable that Michael Beasley never gained Spoelstra’s trust because he could have helped in a game when the Heat was desperate for offense, though he assuredly would have been targeted defensively.
Beasley averaged 25.2 points per 48 minutes this season, which was 54th in the league, but wasn’t even in uniform Thursday.
• Late in the second quarter, Spoelstra summoned Toney Douglas, a move that reeked of desperation. Douglas had no impact, with the Spurs extending their lead from 17 to 19 during his four minutes.
• For the first time since Game 1, Spoelstra opted for Shane Battier instead of James Jones in the first half. But Battier was a minus four in seven minutes Thursday.
• The Heat is closing in on setting a record for highest shooting percentage ever allowed in a Finals (52.7 by the 1991 Bulls). The Spurs are shooting 54.2 percent in the series after finishing at 57.1 percent Thursday.
• Boris Diaw’s impact seemingly cannot be understated. He filled the boxscore with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists and the Spurs are now plus-60 with Diaw on the court in this series.
• Short stuff: Tim Duncan surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most minutes played in NBA playoff history. … The Heat trailed by 21 at halftime for the second consecutive game, which is the third biggest deficit for a home team in NBA Finals history. … The Heat had gone 48 playoff games in a row without consecutive losses, a streak that ended short of the record 54, by the Celtics in the 1960s. … Of Leonard’s 11 career playoff double-doubles, five have come against the Heat, including a 20-point, 14-rebound gem Thursday. … No team has ever won an NBA Finals after trailing 3-1 in the series.