Heat coach Spoelstra on LeBron: ‘I’ve seen it before on our side’
LeBron James stepped onto the AmericanAirlines Arena court Sunday night to a roaring applause. Scattered “MVP” chants reverberated throughout the arena in the first half.
At game’s end, the fans still left to see the end of the Heat’s 113-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers gave James a standing ovation.
The praise was definitely worthy, especially considering the fact that James put together another vintage performance in his first game back in Miami since joining the Lakers this offseason. James scored a season-high 51 points on 19-of-31 shooting (including a 6-of-8 mark from three-point range) while adding eight rebounds and three assists to lead the Lakers to the win. It’s the most points James has scored against Miami.
“I’ve seen it before on our side,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “When he’s hitting the three like that, that changes the equation a little bit. ... We probably should have gone more aggressively to get the ball out of his hands.”
The Heat (6-10) has now dropped five of its last six games.
Miami had no answer for the 14-time All-Star and four-time NBA most valuable player.
James scored 28 points in the first half, including 19 in the opening quarter, to help the Lakers (9-7) take a 67-52 halftime lead. James capped Los Angeles’ scoring in the half by sinking a running reverse layup with 1.1 seconds left while being fouled.
The Lakers’ lead ballooned to 21 late in the third quarter on a James stepback three-pointer before the Heat closed the frame on a 5-0 run to head into the fourth quarter down 92-76.
The Heat cut the deficit to eight points on three occasions in the fourth quarter.
But at that point, it was too little too late.
Wayne Ellington scored a team-high 19 points for the Heat. Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson each added 17, while Rodney McGruder chipped in 14. James Johnson, playing in his first game of the year, scored 8 points but was limited to just 15 minutes on the floor after getting into early foul trouble. The Heat shot just 40.2 percent from the floor.
Richardson was ejected with 6:31 left in the game after he threw his shoe into the stands after being called for a personal foul.
The Heat was without point guard Goran Dragic, who continues to have issues with his right knee.
Miami hosts the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.