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Basketball: James lifts Heat in win over Nets

LeBron James scored 49 points to carry the Miami Heat to a 102-96 victory over Brooklyn on Monday and within one win of advancing in the NBA playoffs.

NEW YORK: LeBron James scored 49 points to carry the Miami Heat to a 102-96 victory over Brooklyn on Monday and within one win of advancing in the NBA playoffs.

James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, matched his career playoff high as two-time defending champions Miami took a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series.

The Heat will try to wrap up the series when they host game five on Wednesday.

James's mammoth effort kept the Heat on pace with the tenacious Nets throughout, but it was team-mate Chris Bosh who hit a crucial three-pointer from the right corner with 57.3 seconds left to play that gave Miami the lead for good.

Bosh's shot broke a 94-94 tie in a tense fourth quarter, and the Heat stretched their advantage with four free-throws from Ray Allen.

James completed the scoring with one more free throw -- missing the second with 1.1 seconds left to fall short of scoring 50 points in a playoff game for the first time.

Instead, he contented himself with the victory and tying his career post-season high of 49 points, first achieved while he was with Cleveland against Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals.

James made 16 of 24 shots from the field and 14 of his 19 foul shots and pulled down six rebounds.

Joe Johnson led the Nets with 18 points, one of five Brooklyn players to score in double figures.

The winners of the series will face either the Eastern Conference top seeds Indiana or Washington in the conference finals.

Indiana lead that series three games to one and will try to finish off the Wizards when they host game five on Tuesday.

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