A failed slam dunk attempt from Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo led to a delay in game four of the NBA Finals on Friday after he left the rim crooked.
With two minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Heat's 108-95 defeat to the Nuggets at Kaseya Center, Adebayo went up and over Denver talisman Nikola Jokic but could not find the net, hanging on the rim as it bounced out, forcing the officials to call offensive interference.
In holding onto the basket, Adebayo left the rim crooked, forcing maintenance staff armed with ladders and a spirit level to come onto the floor to fix the issue, which forced a five-minute delay – which was then prolonged by a medical incident in the crowd. Jokic took matters into his own hands as he leapt up to grab the rim in an attempt to straighten it out, but it was to no avail as it remained slightly off-kilter.
Eventually, the issue was fixed and the game resumed as the Nuggets took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, which they can clinch with a win on home court on Monday night. Jokic and Jamal Murray have been the star men for the Nuggets throughout the playoffs, but Friday's comfortable win was in large part thanks to the contributions of Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown Jr.
Gordon racked up 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Brown contributed 21 points in just 30 minutes off the bench as the Nuggets took a huge step towards lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Gordon was the toast of his teammates after his game-leading performance in game four. "I mean, that's why we got him," Murray told ESPN. "He's a dog. He's strong. He's physical. He's tough. He brings everybody together off the court, and he's a selfless player. He's been solid this whole playoffs, this whole season, the whole time he's been here."
With just one victory separating the Nuggets from the first NBA title in the history of the franchise, Murray's eyes are squarely on the prize at stake.
"We're just ready to win a championship," he said. "We have the tools to do it. It's been on our minds for a while. We're just locked in. I don't think you've got to overthink it. We're just dialled in, ready to win."
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra, though, still believes they can turn the series around.
"It's going to be a gnarly game in Denver that is built for the competitors that we have in our locker room," he said. "By the time we are getting on that plane, all we're thinking about is get this thing back to Miami.
"We get an opportunity to play a super competitive game in a great environment. That's going to be an awesome environment. Our guys are built for that. They love that.
"We understand what the narrative will be, but that's the way it is with our team."