MIAMI – It was a time when LeBron James was plagued by Lance Stephenson would have worked fantastically for the…
MIAMI – It was a time when LeBron James was plagued by Lance Stephenson would have worked fantastically for the heat.
Sunday was not one of those times.
Scenario: It was late in the game, the result was settled, and Stephenson – James’s former rival, now his team-mate with the Lakers – challenged him to finish the game with a 3-pointer.
“I bet you’re not going to 3,” Stephenson said.
The heat probably wants the conversation never to take place. James capped his 51-point night with a 32-foot 3-pointer in the last seconds, pointing to Stephenson to let him know he was wrong and Lakers rolled over the heat 113-97 for his seventh win over the past nine games.
James reached 50th for the 1
3th time in his career, including Game 1 in last season’s NBA finals.
“It only plays with greatness,” said Lakers watch Lonzo Ball. “Tonight he took the game over.”
James shot 19 to 31 from the field, 6 for 8 from 3-point range, became the seventh player who made at least 51 in a game against Miami and started his tournament on two games in a sensational manner. Lakers next game is Wednesday night in Cleveland, the only second place in addition to Miami and L.A. as James has called home as a professional.
“It’s always fun to be here,” said James, hugging a lot of famous faces in the arena he used to call home. “We had some not so good times, we had more good times, so it’s always a respect factor and a love for the people of Miami and especially the people who work here.”
And finally, he left Miami a winner again. After leaving the heat after the 2014 NBA final, James was 0-4 against Miami; His team was 0-7, when he included the three Cleveland-Miami games that he put out for various reasons.
James put on a show.
The heat threw a shoe.
It was their fourth straight home loss and frustrations boiled over. Josh Richardson struck out in the fourth quarter after throwing one of his sneakers into the rack, upset by a conversation that he felt he had not got before.
“I just can not let it happen,” Richardson said.
Wayne Ellington scored 19 points for Miami (6-10), which is his second worst start in the last 12 years. The heat was 5-11 at this point of the 2016-17 season, the only second time they have been worse after 16 games in that thrill.
Richardson and Tyler Johnson scored 17 points for the heat, while Rodney McGruder added 14.
“We will get to work,” the worst coach Erik Spoelstra.
They need some health too. Goran Dragic missed the game for Miami because of a right knee problem, one that will be evaluated further Monday. Dwyane Wade left vacant after her daughter, and can return to the heat this week.
Miami has not forgotten James, of course – he still gets high bowl when introduced to his former hometown – but only in case anyone who participated in them needed a reminder of his game he delivered. He made eight of his first nine shots and had the whole arsenal to work; dunks in transition, stepback 3-pointers, turn-around from the baseline.
“When he hit this, what do you want us to do?” Heat center Hassan Whiteside musade.
Even with James Greatness The biggest shot for the Lakers may have come from Brandon Ingram at 3:46 left. Miami had climbed within eight and the shot was about to go out to the Lakers, but Ingram coupled a long jump from the left flute to make it 104-94.
From there was the only drama about James to get 50 And he did.
“Just give him the ball,” said Laker’s guard Kyle Kuzma, “and get out of the way.”