MIAMI -- Kawhi Leonard ran unchecked into the paint late in the first half Thursday night as teammate Patty Mills' shot arced toward the basket. Leonard leaped into the air and extended his massive hands to snag the ball as it bounced off the rim, throwing down a vicious dunk to put the San Antonio Spurs ahead by 22 points.
Fans inside AmericanAirlines Arena, notorious for prematurely giving up on their team, loudly booed, with some heading toward the exits, if just for a halftime break.
There was no reason to return, really, unless it was to possibly say goodbye to the Miami Heat in a season that could be over as soon as Sunday.
San Antonio outplayed the two-time defending champions by almost every measure for a second consecutive game on the Heat's home court, taking Game 4 with a 107-86 flogging that put the Spurs one victory away from their first championship since 2007.
Leonard collected 20 points and 14 rebounds and Parker added 19 points for San Antonio, which takes a three-games-to-one lead back to the AT&T Center for Game 5 on Sunday as part of the new 2-2-1-1-1 series format. Somewhere, the 2000-02 Lakers were exhaling deeply, their designation as the last team to three-peat as champions seeming more secure.
LeBron James scored 28 points for the Heat, equaling the combined output of his starting teammates. Dwyane Wade was particularly atrocious, making one of his first 10 shots on the way to 10 points. Wade missed layups, had shots blocked and appeared physically unable to match up with his Spurs counterparts.
None of that may have been as galling as this statistic: San Antonio veteran forward Boris Diaw had nine assists, four fewer than the Heat players combined.
Miami had gone 48 consecutive playoff games without consecutive defeats before Thursday, last losing back-to-back games in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.
Of course, the Heat had lost only 13 postseason games during that stretch.
This was one over by late in the second quarter, when Diaw showed why he had once played some point guard. He repeatedly found teammates for easy looks, making a no-look, behind-the-back pass out of a double team to Tiago Splitter underneath the basket for a dunk.
The early going was particularly vexing for Wade, who had a shot blocked by Leonard, was dunked on by Diaw and missed a 6-foot jumper in succession.