MIAMI -- At one point in his career, Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis was often in such situations.
He's not too old to forget the days when he was the player who the last shot was designed for. So he can somewhat relate to current teammate LeBron James' struggle.
In Wednesday's loss to the Indiana Pacers, James was given the opportunity to make the tying basket and potentially force overtime. Instead, he passed to an open Chris Bosh, who missed a 3-pointer. The Pacers kept their season alive with a victory.
Another resurrection was the narrative of how James should handle late-game situations.
As the game's best player, he is left in a no-win situation. The easy criticism is to say he should always take the final shot. Those who have been there beg to differ.
"You take what the defense gives you," Lewis said. "Of course, you want to attack to try to get the shot where the defense collapses and somebody is open. Your natural reaction is to pass to the open man."
That is exactly what James did, a common occurrence throughout his career. He's earned the label of being a player who would rather set up teammates for a clean look than take a bad shot.
In the latest case, James was given the ball on a clear out. When he drove to the basket, it immediately attracted Pacers center Roy Hibbert to the rim. That left James with the task of scoring over two defenders.
His eyes caught Bosh in the corner, a shot he had made dozens of times this season. A few weeks ago, Bosh buried the go-ahead 3-point shot in the final minute from the same spot against the Brooklyn Nets in the conference semifinals.
This time, he failed.
With it came doubts on whether James made the right play.
"That's showing trust in your teammates," Lewis said. "Your natural reaction is to pass to the open man. You don't want to force a bad shot over a double-team or three guys collapsing around you."
James is no stranger to the debate.
He's dealt with it the past four seasons in Miami. His willingness to defer on final possession even spilled into an All-Star Game. In 2012, he was ripped for not taking the final shot in a game that is nothing more than a showcase for fans.
So it was no surprise the critics surfaced in his latest late-game scenario.
"They're going to say stuff about what LeBron does, regardless," Heat guard Mario Chalmers said. "He doesn't let it get to him. He got to the lane. He kicked it to (Bosh). C.B. just missed the shot."
Added James, "I mean, it's easy to say that after the fact. It's like playing cards. That's why they have backs on them. You don't know what's going to happen."
Pacers coach Frank Vogel declined to reveal the defensive strategy on the final play. They were burned last year against the Heat when James drove to the basket for the winning points in Game 1 of the conference finals.
"We don't want to give up any bucket," Vogel said. "We don't want to get beat by a 3 obviously when you're up 2. But you don't want to give up an easy 2 either."
Afterward, Hibbert admitted there was a sense of relief when the ball left James' hands. James was just a few feet from the rim when he passed to Bosh.
Still, the consensus among the players on the court at the time was James made the right "basketball play." Paul George, the Pacers' go-to player, said he looks elsewhere in late-game situations once he realizes his shot is taken away.
"I try to create enough space for myself to get a shot off, try to pick a spot on the floor where I feel like I can raise," said George, who sent Game 1 of last year's conference finals into overtime on a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer. "If I sense any help from someone around or somebody coming off, I try to make that play to my teammates to the make the shot. That's what I thought LeBron did. He drew Roy to come in and help and found Chris Bosh for the open three."
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