LeBron may be playing at his highest level yet
BY TIM REYNOLDS Associated Press
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 5:48 AM
MIAMI, Fla. - After a recent Miami Heat practice in Washington, Ray Allen told the coaching staff he was skipping the bus ride and running back to the hotel.
LeBron James' ears perked up.
With that, the three-time NBA MVP went looking for his running shoes.
"LeBron said, 'If you're going to do that, I'm going to do that too. I'm not going to be outdone by somebody else. I'm going to run,'" Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "So he gets very competitive with things like that."
James' game - already considered among the best in the NBA - might be better than ever right now.
He's made 49 of his last 65 shots over his last 147 minutes, a torrid 75 percent clip. For the season, he's shooting a career-best 56 percent so far, easily on pace for the sixth straight season of improvement in that department. His 3-point shooting, at 42 percent this season, is much improved. He's shooting 70 percent inside the paint.
On Sunday, he scored 32 points in a 107-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, his franchise-record fifth straight game with at least 30 points.
"I want to continue to push the button, continue to get better, maximize my potential and not waste an opportunity," James said.
The numbers go on and on. He's averaging 26.9 points this season. According to STATS LLC, only five players in NBA history have averaged that many points while shooting at least 56 percent over a full season.
Maybe that's why Heat guard Dwyane Wade marvels when talking about James these days, saying "every year, it seems like he does the amazing."
"Numbers don't lie," James said.
After winning his third MVP award, second Olympic gold medal and first NBA championship, James said he wanted to get even better.
"It's kind of like, where is the bar for this guy? Does he have a bar?" Wade said. "And I'm glad that he's doing this while he's in a Miami Heat uniform."
Starting in the fourth quarter of Miami's game last weekend at Toronto, James has generated 134 points on 65 shots. How off-the-charts effective is that? Remember, if he went 65-for-65 on 2-pointers alone and did nothing else, that would only add up to 130 points.
Nonetheless, it all adds up to James missing 16 shots in the last 16 1/2 quarters of Heat basketball.
"I mean, come on. We try to come up with new superlatives every single game," Spoelstra said. "He's the best player in the game, and he's continuing to reinvent himself."
Hard work, James said, has been the difference. The Heat added one of the game's all-time elite shooters in Allen last summer, and James is typically involved in some sort of shooting session with the NBA's career 3-point leader after every practice. He hits the practice court to take game-situation jumpers when his legs are fresh. He does it again when his legs are tired.
"When I'm able to go out there on the floor, I just try to make things happen," James said. "But I want to continue to get better. I'm not satisfied, and I work on my game each and every day, trying to figure out ways I can get better, both offensively and defensively, from the interior to the exterior, whatever the case may be."
A closer look
A look at LeBron James' last five games (all wins). He's scored 30 or more points in each. He has 19 games of 30 or more points this season.
|2/3 ||@TOR||10-16 ||30|
|2/6||HOU ||11-18 ||32|
|2/8||LAC||9 -11 ||30|
Heat forward LeBron James looks for an open teammate past Lakers forward Metta World Peace on Sunday in Miami, Fla. James scored 32 points as the Heat won 107-97. WILFREDO LEE / AP