James is making everything look easy. He scored 32 points, Dwyane Wade had 30 and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 107-97, on Sunday for their fifth straight win.
It was James's fifth straight game with at least 30 points, a franchise record. James, who was 12 of 18 from the field, also joined Adrian Dantley (1979) and Moses Malone (1982) as the only N.B.A. players to score at least 30 and shoot at least 60 percent in five straight outings, the team said. "Don't take it for granted," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's making greatness look easy."
Kobe Bryant had 28 points and 9 assists for the Lakers, who also got 18 points from Earl Clark. The Lakers had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter; Miami had none. "Turnovers," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You have to give them credit. They're good." Miami moved two and an half games ahead of the Knicks in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks lost to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier Sunday. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash each scored 15 points for the Lakers.
"They have a couple of sensational players over there that made some big plays," Bryant said. Wade also hit 12 of 18 shots for Miami, which made 55 percent as a team and held a 38-29 edge in rebounding. Wade had 5 straight points for Miami, the last of them coming with 7 minutes 15 seconds left when his 3-point play put the Heat ahead, 89-82 - at that point their biggest lead.
A minute later, Wade started what might have been Miami's signature sequence. He stepped in front of a pass by Bryant under the basket, then flipped it to Chris Bosh before falling out of bounds. Bosh got the ball to Cole, who beat Nash down the court, then lobbed a pass over his head to James, who soared for a slam that gave the Heat a seven point lead once again. "You could feel the buzz in the arena today," James said. "We were just happy that we were able to play our game, weather some of their storms that they had and come out with a win." With 3:25 left, James turned in another highlight. He stole a pass, drove down court and past Nash, who found himself in the lane against a fast-charging James plenty of times Sunday.
It was almost as if Nash was not even in James's field of vision. James leapt for a dunk, giving him 30 points and the franchise record, and Miami's lead was 9. Bryant scored on the next Lakers possession, but Shane Battier hit a three pointer with 2:42 left to put Miami ahead, 100-90, for the first double-digit lead by either team. That was the last gasp for the Lakers, who finished their trip at 4-3. "We had our chances, but we weren't good enough tonight," Nash said. "We had too many breakdowns and we had opportunities to stretch the lead at times in the game, and we couldn't do that either, so probably in the end, we didn't deserve it." The teams finished the first half tied at 53-53, and neither team allowed the other much in the way of breathing room in the third quarter until the final seconds. That is when James started flexing some muscle. James scored Miami's last 11 points of the third quarter, all in the final 4:20, and four of those came in the last six seconds. He was fouled by Clark and made the first free throw.
Then the second attempt was tipped back out by Battier to James, who was just beyond the three point line. He connected from there, and the Heat took a 78-73 lead into the fourth.
It took a few more minutes, but James and Wade helped Miami put it away. "D-Wade came and he just started cooking in the fourth quarter," Bryant said. "He started doing what D-Wade does and made sensational play after sensational play." Rapper Lil Wayne, a semi-regular at Heat games, was there for the first half, then posted on Twitter that he was ejected for rooting for the Lakers. Security personnel were seen talking to him at halftime, and a Heat spokesman said was not ejected, leaving on his own. (New York Times)