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James scores 49, Heat top Nets for 3-1 lead

Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James came within a missed foul shot of scoring 50 points in a playoff game for the first time in his career.

It was a shot he didn't take that proved to be the biggest for the Miami Heat.

Boxed in by a double team, James gave the ball up and Chris Bosh knocked down a 3-pointer to give Miami the lead for good in a 102-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Heat took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Wednesday's Game 5 in Miami.

James scored 49 points, matching his career-high in the playoffs, and the Heat bounced back two days after having their eight-game postseason winning streak snapped on in a 104-90 loss on Saturday.

The two-time defending champions led for most of the game, but never by more than nine points. It was tight down the stretch until Bosh's 3-pointer with 57.3 seconds remaining broke a tie, sparking an 8-2 Miami run to end the game.

Surrounded by veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce down low, James kicked the ball back to Mario Chalmers up top and Chalmers swung it to Bosh in the right corner.

James has been criticized in the past for giving the ball up late in important games, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said it was the right play. If James had forced up a shot, Spoelstra said, he probably wouldn't have made it.

"He was fantastic tonight," said Spoelstra. "He has a way of sensing what we need. ... He showed great poise and trust to make a great play, a basketball play."

James was 16-of-24 from the field and 14-of-19 at the foul line. He missed a free throw with 1.1 seconds left and a chance to reach 50. He also scored 49 points for Cleveland in Game 1 of the 2009 conference finals against Orlando.

"Whatever I needed to do to help us win, it needed to be done -- offensively, defensively, being the leader that I am on the floor, helping us overcome any adversity," said James.

Nets coach Jason Kidd said they tried to keep James out of the paint -- but that's easier said than done.

The four-time NBA MVP scored 22 of his points there, missing just one shot.

"It a little hard to (just) talk about it because he's not going to settle," said Kidd. "And tonight he didn't settle."

Dwyane Wade added 15 points for the second-seeded Heat, Bosh scored 12 and Ray Allen had 11 off the bench. Miami shot just shy of 53 percent.

Joe Johnson had 18 points to lead a well-rounded Nets effort. Pierce chipped in 16 and Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston both scored 13.

Bosh's 3-pointer came after James picked up his fifth foul at the other end on Garnett, who made two free throws to tie the score.

James scored 25 points in the first half and the Heat shot better than 63 percent -- including over 72 percent in the second quarter -- but their lead never got higher than eight.

The close game recalled their four regular-season meetings. The Nets won all four, but three of the victories came by one point and the fourth was decided in double-overtime.

Monday, the Nets used an 11-2 run spanning the first and second quarters to turn an eight-point deficit into their first lead of the game. Later, James scored six straight Heat points, including two on a tomahawk dunk, to help them get some distance for a 56-49 halftime lead.

James had 15 points in the third quarter -- including 13 in a row for the Heat at one point -- giving him 40 going into the fourth. Miami's lead was trimmed from nine to one, but Brooklyn never went ahead and trailed 79-76 at the horn.

Game Notes

Miami was 3-for-9 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter before Bosh made his go- ahead shot ... The Nets went 0-for-6 on 3s in the fourth ... There were eight lead changes and six ties.

05/13 01:47:26 ET