Feb 11, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
But it won’t be because James has slipped, even in the slightest.
Tuesday night in Phoenix, LeBron put together a performance that reminded us just how good he can be, leading the Heat to a 103-97 win over a pesky Suns team that wouldn’t go away until the final buzzer had sounded.
Miami was without Dwyane Wade in this one, who was forced to miss this game due to a migraine headache that crept up in the afternoon. That just meant that James had to shoulder more of the load, which he seemed more than happy to do. He finished the first half with eight shot attempts, but seven of those came in the paint on attacking moves to the basket, or on runouts in transition.
LeBron finished with 37 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals. The steals were critical, because most if not all of them led to fast break opportunities that demoralized the opposition. He scored 25 of those points in the second half, and closed the game with a brilliant 14-point fourth quarter on just seven shots.
The Suns finished the game with 16 turnovers, which isn’t a number that’s insurmountable. Against the Heat, however, when almost all of them are of the live ball variety that lead to monster dunks in transition, it can become a bit tiresome.
Goran Dragic has played at an All-Star level this season, but had an off night against the defending champs. Dragic finished with 15 points, nine assists and four steals, but shot just 4-of-12 from the field.
The Suns were on the verge of being blown out of their own building in the third quarter, after leading by as many as 12 early on. Miami put together an 11-0 run that featured a three-pointer from Chris Bosh, and was ended with back-to-back dunks from James. Gerald Green scored eight straight Suns points to bring his team back from the edge, and things were tight the rest of the way.
Green led the Suns with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and consistently got buckets when his team needed them the most.
But while the Suns need to get a nearly flawless performance to beat one of the league’s elite, the Heat, even without Wade, only need the MVP version of LeBron to show up in order to close the other team out.
- Trail Blazers assistant coach: ‘We didn’t publicize it, but we lost LaMarcus Aldridge’ 0
- Who is left on the board after wild first day of NBA free agency? 2
- Report: Warriors, Draymond Green agree to five-year, $85 million deal 17
- 76ers get Nik Stauskas, first-rounder in salary-dump trade with Kings 45
- Report: Pelicans finalizing deal with Omer Asik 3
- Reports: Paul Pierce agrees to three-year, $10 million contract with Los Angeles Clippers 23
- Report: LaMarcus Aldridge rules out Lakers in free agent decision 108
- Reports: Phoenix Suns sign Tyson Chandler, re-sign Brandon Knight, try to reshape roster 14