DALLAS - LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have rooms across the hall from one another at Miami's team hotel in Dallas, which was convenient after Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
They needed to talk.
And despite all the questions that have arisen after James' eight-point effort on Tuesday night - the first time in 90 career playoff games in which the two-time NBA MVP was held to single digits in scoring - Wade emerged from that late-night strategy session believing as ever in his superstar Heat teammate.
"Eventually," Wade said Wednesday, "he's going to do something amazing, and it's going to put us over the top."
Game 5 is James' next opportunity.
The Heat and Dallas Mavericks are tied at two games apiece in these NBA Finals, which resume Thursday night before shifting back to Miami for Game 6 on Sunday and, possibly, a winner-take-all Game 7 on Tuesday night. It's a best-of-three series now.
"I think it's that time," James said. "I think it's that time that I try to get myself going individually."
Said Wade: "Sounds good to me."
James' words surely sound good to the rest of the Heat, too. Come Thursday, everyone will be waiting to see whether he bounces back from a stunning Game 4 stat line. He was more than 20 points below his career playoff average, shooting only 3 for 11 in Miami's 86-83 loss.
So far in the Finals, he has nine points in the fourth quarter. To put that in perspective, Dirk Nowitzki had 10 in the final quarter of Game 4 alone.
"I didn't play well, especially offensively. I know that," James said. "I've got to do a better job of helping this team win basketball games, especially late, no matter what it is."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Miami would make some adjustments to help James' offensive flow in Game 5. The Mavericks might be providing James with some help as well.
On the eve of Game 5, Dallas guard DeShawn Stevenson directed some sharp words toward James, saying he "checked out" in the final minutes of Game 4 on Tuesday night.
"That's good for us," Stevenson said after practice Wednesday.
Players, owners "far apart." David Stern said owners and players remained "very far apart" on a new labor deal after completing two days of negotiations. The NBA commissioner used the term "far apart" five times to describe where owners and players stand before the June 30 expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
The sides agreed to meet twice more next week, Tuesday in Miami if there is a Game 7 of the Finals or in New York and then again Friday in New York.