LeBron James refused to answer a question about Miami’s upcoming road trip before the Heat took on the Pistons on Monday night.
He said he wanted to focus on the opponent at hand and start worrying about the 19-day trip westward after the game. It was a good mind-set to have on a night when the Heat couldn’t pull away from the Pistons, instead making small runs to push the lead into double digits for brief spurts.
Yet, when Miami did go on its runs, James was in the middle of the action.
The forward came up just shy of his first triple-double of the season, scoring 24 points, dishing out 11 assists and collecting eight rebounds.
“It’s not meant for it to happen,” James said.
James entered the game as Miami’s leader in all three categories.
“He played with a real good tempo, not only on the perimeter, but also in the post,” coach Erik Spoelstra added. “When we really needed to settle down, we typically went to him in some type of action where we knew he would be able to create a trigger for us.
“He was reading the game and used his talents to make the right play.”
He had five assists in the first quarter, including a pass to a wide open Ray Allen, who buried a three-pointer. James’ aggression in the second quarter sparked a 7-0 run to push Miami’s lead to what was then a game-high 11 points.
James made the pass over his defender to Allen, who hit a corner three at the buzzer to give Miami some momentum after a back-and-forth third quarter.
James’ 11 assists were the most he has had since the second game of the year, when he dished out 13 against Philadelphia. More than the sheer quantity, the assists came at crucial points in the game and showcased his vision.
Even if he didn’t pick up an assist, James’ vision was on display for much of the night. He threw a behind-the-back pass to Chris Bosh in the first quarter that ultimately led to a Shane Battier three-pointer.
“He was the floor general [Monday night] for us, making great plays, and I’m glad we were able to make the shots for him,” Dwyane Wade said about James’ vision.
More important for Miami, James made the smart play most of the night, committing only one turnover when the Heat’s turnover woes were evident again.
He was not overly cautious with the basketball by any means, attacking the basket consistently throughout the game, but he was diligent with his passes, ensuring they would find a black jersey.
James said the Heat as a whole committed far less attack turnovers than careless ones Monday night.
“We did a good job [limiting careless turnovers],” James said. “We had to be very careful with our passes and the way we execute offensively.”