This time, the stakes were considerably lower, but we got a similar result from the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Despite coming into Monday night's game with the worst record in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz actually held a three-point lead over Miami at halftime. James lost his headband on an early third-quarter drive to the basket after Derrick Favors lost his headband. Sans headband, James threw a no-look pass to Mario Chalmers for a 3 on Miami's ensuing possession. About a minute later, the NBA's best player threw down a vicious dunk.
You get the picture.
The Heat held on to defeat the Utah Jazz 117-94 and improve to 18-6 on the season. This win -- coupled with Indiana's home loss to Detroit -- moves Miami two games behind the Eastern-leading Pacers heading into Wednesday night's rematch between the two top East teams.
For the second consecutive game, all three members of the Big Three scored more than 20 points. James scored 30 points on 13-of-17 shooting from the field (including six highlight dunks), nine rebounds and nine assists. He appeared to roll his ankle in the third quarter, but returned to the game and moved well. Still, any swelling could hurt his chances of playing in Wednesday's game.
Dwyane Wade had to protect a seven-point lead after James went down, and he scored 10 of his 27 points in the final frame. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP lived in the paint, working tirelessly in the post and making 10 trips to the foul line, making nine. Like James, Wade was remarkably efficient from the floor. The three-time NBA champion shot 9-of-14 from the field.
As a team, the Heat shot 63 percent from the field. Chris Bosh put together a very encouraging third quarter, aggressively attacking the basket. Bosh recorded two dunks and two layups in the third, finishing with 20 points and six boards.
Miami's point guards also chipped in, combining for 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. Both Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole delivered errant passes to LeBron James in the fast-break, though, and could have afforded to tone down the turnovers just a bit.
Still, all the dunks and efficient offense were great to watch. This game will undoubtedly be forgotten in two days in favor of the Indiana/Miami game, but tonight was all about why it's great to be an NBA junkie. It's great to see your team play well any time of the year. Remember when Norris Cole made several clutch shots to beat the Boston Celtics as a rookie? Cole went on to have an uneven rookie year, and the game meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.
But you remember, it, don't you? That's what tonight was about.