After scoring 39 points on only 37 minutes and taking 18 shots, LeBron James once again brought up the subject of his ability to score a lot more if he’d just be more selfish like other superstars around the NBA. It’s nothing new. The more surprising factor of the Miami Heat beating the Dallas Mavericks 110-104 was Dwyane Wade coming up with 8 steals, and for once giving a complete effort on defense, usually not his strongest quality.
James, unlike players like James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook, sees the bigger picture most of the time and is willing to give up on his own numbers in order to go that distance. He has only taken more than 30 field goal attempts while playing for the Heat twice, both regular seasons losses. The Miami Heat, or any team he played and plays for, is better off when he’s not just trying to score 40-50 points a night, which is something many believe, including James himself, can do on a more regular basis.
Not that 39 points is bad – James was almost unstoppable on a night the Heat needed that kind of offense from him – Ray Allen is out with a flu, Mario Chalmers was ejected for elbowing, intentionally or not, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Bosh was struggling with 4-of-11 from the field. Luckily, the Dallas defense isn’t really built to stop anyone from scoring if they really want to, so James kept making the easy shots he was able to create for himself, with a little help from his friends.
Dwyane Wade had a rare statistical night – 17 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and a career high 8 steals, becoming the second player in franchise history to have an 8 assist, 8 steals game. Rashard Lewis got more minutes than usual, adding 11 points with some nice shooting from beyond the arc. Norris Cole also scored 11 off the bench.
The game saw plenty of lead changes, but the Heat actually took control of the game after Chalmers’ ejection, lasting the final five minutes without him. With James doing so well from every range and getting so easily to the paint, there wasn’t much stopping the Miami Heat from pulling off their fifth win in six games.
James is shooting 69% from the field over his last three games, and is an amazing 61% for the season. These are numbers that usually come from centers who don’t do anything but dunk the ball all day long. It’s bound to take a dip at some point, but James has talked about wanting to get even more efficient this season – better with his shot selection, smarter with his decisions. The Heat are still having problems on defense, but their offense seems to be in excellent shape and excellent hands. It’s good enough to pull them through the absences and the rough defensive patch they’re going through.
The Mavs? Turning the ball over is recipe for disasted, especially when it happens 24 times. Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Vince Carter all scored more than 20 points, but without a shred of defense or a bit more thinking with the ball in their hands, playing against the better teams in the league is always going to end badly for them.