It starts Tuesday, with the Lakers looking to get back on track, the Miami Heat in command in the East and LeBron James in command of everyone.
Dwyane Wade is to the point where he is beginning to cherish the Miami Heat records he still owns.
One by one, his team achievements are starting to fall. Another of Wade’s marks came crashing down after teammate LeBron James scored 32 second-half points to lead the Heat to a thrilling 113-110 victory against the Houston Rockets Monday at Toyota Center.
Wade had accomplished the feat twice in his career. Now, he has the share the honor after James finished with a game-high 38 points, including the winning basket with 18.6 seconds remaining. James on this night also surpassed Wade’s team record for most consecutive games scoring in double-figures. He has done it 149 straight times.
“There’s going to be a lot of that a lot of times with my records around here,” Wade said, smiling.
James was just 2 of 6 from the field before taking control in the second half. He picked the perfect time to produce his first 30-point game of the season. James at this point last season had surpassed 30 four times after eight games.
It was James who rescued the Heat from what could have been an embarrassing defeat. They started strong, jumping to a 22-5 lead. After looking sluggish in Sunday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the offense was once again crisp. The defense was once again tenacious.
The Heat appeared over their Grizzlies hangover.
And then the Rockets surged behind Chandler Parsons, James Harden and Omer Asik. Parsons scored a team-high 25 points while Harden finished with 22. Asik added to the Heat’s interior defensive woes by scoring a career-high 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
After trailing the entire way, the Rockets grabbed their first lead when guard Carlos Delfino hit a 3-pointer from the wing to make it 70-69 with 5:03 left in the third quarter. That’s when James decided to take over.
Actually, it began at the start of the second half when Spoelstra called the first play for James. He missed a short jumper, but it would be one of few misfires the remainder of the game. He scored 16 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, scoring mostly on tough jumpshots.
“It’s The Zone,” James said. “I think you guys all hear about it, certain players being able to get into a Zone. I wish you’d get to it more. When you’re in it, you know how you feel. You know anything that you put up, it’s going to be pretty good.”
That was evident when James made an improbable 27-foot, fadeaway 3-pointer to bring the Heat to within 107-106 with 1:49 remaining. It’s a shot Wade says James makes routinely in practice.
“You’ve got to be very strong to make that shot,” Wade said. “.Ain’t no defenses for that. Ain’t no coaching for that. Glo’ James [James’ mother] gave him that.”
Still, the Heat needed more from James.
Parsons answered James’ shot with a 3-pointer to make it once again a four-point game. James kept the Heat in it by making two free throws. After James Harden missed a layup, the stage was set for James to be the hero.
He had hurt the Rockets with a barrage of off-balanced jumpshots, but decided it was time to lower the level of difficulty. He drove baseline, and hit a driving layup to put the Heat ahead for good.
“I had made so many jumpers in the second half,” James said. “…It was good to get to the rim at that point.”
The Rockets had a pair of chances to steal the win or force overtime. Trailing by one, guard Jeremy Lin shot an airball on a wide open 3-point attempt. Then after Heat center Chris Bosh made two free throws to make it a three-point game, Houston one last opportunity to tie.
It was also chance for James to make one final statement, this time on the defense. He guarded Harden on the final possession, forcing the league’s second-leading scorer into taking a difficult 3-pointer at the buzzer that came up short.
“I was looking at Coach and Coach was looking at me coming out of the timeout,” James said. “We basically was like, `Ok, it’s time for me.’ He looked at me and was like, `You need to take him.”’
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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