MIAMI – He is a champion. He is a three-time MVP. He has a scoring title. Watching LeBron James Friday night, it’s evident he is easily on pace to add two of those accolades to his résumé again this season.
James, who is fourth in the league in scoring, was responsible for the dagger delivered in the Sixers’ 102-93 loss, a 12th straight on the road and their 13th consecutive at the hands of the defending champs (see Instant Replay).
The Heat trailed 75-73 with time winding down in the third quarter. The ball was in James’ hands, as it should be. Damien Wilkins tried to stay in front of No. 6 going around a screen, but ended up grabbing James around the neck to use the Sixers' foul to give.
James winced but appeared more upset than in actual pain. That was all he needed. On the following possession, James found himself locked with Wilkins again, this time draining a contested three that proved to be the catalyst of the Heat's knockout punch.
“Damien I thought did a good job and made him take a contested shot but that’s what great players do -- hit tough shots,” Doug Collins said.
“Any time you can hit a big three at the end of a quarter, [it’s] definitely a momentum-shifter,” said Thaddeus Young, who led the Sixers with 25 points. “I think that is what got them going and then they just jumped on us in the fourth quarter.”
James scored six points for Miami early in the fourth quarter, providing the home team separation and eventually its 17th straight win, tying the Clippers for the NBA’s season-best streak.
James scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“LeBron just grabbed the game,” Collins said. “Then they just put the ball in his hands and he made plays and then they put him on Jrue [Holiday] defensively, so he did it on both ends of the floor, but that is why he is the MVP.”
“The run he has been on, everyone has been talking about it,” Spencer Hawes said. “It is hard to stop when he is playing with that kind of aggressiveness.”
There were 11 lead changes over the course of the game and the Sixers actually led by as many as nine points at one point. They are now hoping to carry over the positives they displayed against the 46-win Heat to Sunday’s matchup with Orlando, who has 17 wins to speak of including one against the Sixers.
“We owe them one. They came in and hit us pretty good last time,” Hawes said regarding the Feb. 26 loss at home to the Magic. “We have to get something out of this trip and get a game heading back home and just get a little bit of that feeling back.”
“Sunday’s game is a big game for us,” Young said. “They are definitely one of the team’s we could have beat, should have beat, but we just didn’t get that win because we played poorly that game. Hopefully we can try and capitalize off some of the positives that we did tonight and just go out there, play hard and win the game.”