The method of giving every aging key player some rest from time to time except for LeBron James has been working fine so far, but the recent loss to the Sacramento Kings didn’t just end a six-game winning streak for the Miami Heat – it also left them with their best player slightly injured, obviously causing a great deal of concern.
Not the loss, the injury. LeBron James had to play along with Chris Bosh without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and others. They led by 17 points in Sacramento, but blew the lead and eventually lost 108-103 in overtime. James was playing with a strained groin from before overtime, and it was easy to see that he wasn’t himself as the Kings came back and took over the game.
James finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. He also moved up to 29th on the all-time scoring list, going past both Larry Bird and Gary Payton. For James, who cared about his place in the history of the league, it probably mattered to get the notice of his bump up the rankings, but it coming with a loss and an injury that will probably get him to rest and most likely miss the tough road game against the Portland Trail Blazers wasn’t very pleasing for him.
The Kings? This was one of those games in which the potential of DeMarcus Cousins and the rest of the talented young players around him comes together into more than just some individuals playing on the court together. Maybe it was the challenge of playing against the short handed NBA champions brought it out of them, but it was possibly their head coach calling them out in public earlier in the week.
This is a new team, and for us to come out and perform against one of the best teams in the league, it’s a pretty good feeling. The biggest thing is we responded to what coach was saying.
Cousins had one of those games that makes you think of him as the best center in the NBA. If not now, than pretty soon. He finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds, as the Kings outrebounded the Miami Heat 51-35. It didn’t matter that they turned the ball over 22 times, allowing Miami to grab only four offensive rebounds through the entire game.
Rudy Gay scored 26 points and played as well as one could expect from a non defensive specialist against James. Isiah Thomas had a game that probably drowned out for a very short while the talks about him being traded very soon, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists. There’s a future the Kings can look forward towards with some talented players to build around; the problem is that this kind of performance seems to come out only once in a blue moon, when there’s real challenge.
The Miami Heat did lose this one, their 7th loss this season and first against a Western team, but there’s no reason to actually worry, unless James’ injury is a bit more serious than it seems right now. If the Heat have been treading lightly with Wade’s knee issues, we can expect them to be just as cautious about the best player in the league.