Some NBA record are more impressive, but with every passing game and every achieved milestone, LeBron James takes another step in the direction of a legendary status, if he hasn’t already reached it. The Miami Heat and the players around sometimes seem to serve as the background and platform for unfolding, amazing career.
The Heat are much more than James, but there’s no arguing that they wouldn’t be more than a borderline playoff team, maybe slightly better, if not for him. James finished with more than 30 points while shooting over 60% from the field for the sixth consecutive time, making the longest streak of that nature, breaking the five-in-a-row by Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley from over 30 years ago. James didn’t lead the Heat in scoring, but finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists in the 117-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. James is also leading the NBA, as usual, with games of 30-5-5, now recording 16 this season, six more than the next in line, Kevin Durant.
Like I say over and over, I know the history of the game. I know how many unbelievable players who came through the ranks, who paved the way for me and my teammates. And for me to be in the record books by myself with such a stat — any stat — it’s big-time.
But a win didn’t come with just James being his usual brilliant self (James has made 66 of his past 92 shots, over the past six games — and is an absurd 60 for 80, or 75 percent, in his last 188 minutes of court time). Chris Bosh was destined to fly under the radar and be slightly under appreciated while playing for the Heat, but he did finish with 32 points and 11 rebounds in one of the more efficient nights you’ll see from him, making 13-16 from the field. Dwyane Wade added 24, as the Heat got 86 points from their big three, not to mention Ray Allen with 14, as only 7 players needed to score for the Heat.
Both Wade and Erik Spoelstra were once again full of compliments from the man carrying this team on his back, sometimes more than he wishes to do.
That’s why he is who he is. The best player in the game. Obviously, he is doing something that is amazing and special. That’s all you’re going to get out of me right now. He competes. He loves to compete. He loves close games. And he’s leading us, not just with his talent.
For the Blazers, it was another frustrating night of problems on transition defense, allowing 24 points off their turnovers (15) and simply not having the kind of depth to support one of their big stars not playing well. Damian Lillard scored 33 points, his 25th game this season of over 20 points, while no other rookie has more than 8; LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29. Nicolas Batum struggled against James and whoever was on him, and the bench only contributed 12 points. There were good minutes for the Blazers, but their lack of depth is going to keep them out of the playoffs.
For the Heat, it’s these little intensity bursts, mostly powered by home stretches, that give them the slight lead in the Eastern Conference, while James takes his game into another level. As long as the Heat keep up these consecutive wins to back up their tough road losses, they’ll be in good shape hitting the playoffs.