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LeBron’s last-shot debate rages on

By Barry Jackson, McClatchy Newspapers –

Including playoffs, the Heat this season has gone 6 for 18 on shots to take the lead or tie the game in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. The NBA’s MVP, LeBron James, has taken only two of those shots (making one) — including none so far in the playoffs.

That statistic likely would not sit well with TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who ripped Heat coach Erik Spoelstra for not calling a play for James late in Game 2.

“I blame this squarely on Erik Spoelstra,” Barkley said early Wednesday morning on TNT, specifically referencing Dwyane Wade’s missed layup with 16 seconds left. “I have no idea why the best player in the world is not closing.

“They ran the play for Dwyane, as they usually do. The Heat is only going to go as far as LeBron James takes them, but those coaches in Miami are apparently living in the past, when Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal ) and Alonzo Mourning were on the team.”

Barkley said “it’s time for LeBron . . . to go to Coach Spoelstra and say, ‘I want the ball.’” Barkley said he read an article in which Wade said, “I learned something when I was out. This is LeBron’s team.” Barkley said: “Apparently, Coach Spoelstra didn’t read the article. Dwyane Wade is a terrific player, don’t get me wrong. But when you’ve got a nuclear weapon like LeBron James, you have to unleash him.”

But O’Neal said, “If you want LeBron to be the go-to man, LeBron has to act like he wants to be the go-to man. When he gets the ball, he’s got to make an aggressive move. LeBron could have put the ball down and drove, but D-Wade came in the way.”

Asked Wednesday if he would like to have seen James be more aggressive on that play, Spoelstra said, “He was aggressive that whole fourth quarter. That play had two or three options to it. We eventually got to the option with Dwyane at the free-throw line. Come on. If that shot goes in, nobody is saying anything.”

NBA rules

After reviewing the play, the NBA said Wade will not be suspended for his flagrant foul on Darren Collison in Game 2.

Game 5 of Heat-Pacers will start at 8 p.m. Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena if the Spurs sweep the Clippers in their playoff series. Otherwise, the game would start at 7 p.m.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Heat on Tuesday became the first team in NBA history to make less than 10 percent of its three-point shots (minimum 15 shots) and less than 70 percent of its free throws in a playoff game.

The Pacers’ on-court celebration of their Game 2 victory — which Indiana players insisted was reserved — seemed excessive to Wade. And Mario Chalmers apparently agreed. “It was shocking they celebrated like that,” Chalmers said. “To each his own.”

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