While much has been made of LeBron James returning to Cleveland on Wednesday, he put on a show for South Beach, scoring a season-high 51 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 113-97 win over the Miami Heat. The victory put the Lakers in position to finish their three-game road trip with a winning record.
After admitting returning to Miami, where he won two championships, brings about fond memories, James certainly appeared comfortable at American Airlines Arena as he exploded for 19 points in the first quarter.
James was dialed in from deep, connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Lakers jump out to a double-digit lead. The torch was then carried by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when James went to the bench.
Caldwell-Pope connected on his first three attempts behind the arc, which helped the Lakers hold off a Heat run in the second quarter.
While the Lakers held a 15-point edge at halftime, there were defensive lapses in the third quarter, and the Heat took advantage. They corralled four offensive rebounds on one possession and cashed it in on Wayne Ellington’s 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 76-67.
That was followed by an 11-4 run by the Lakers, with James, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart all getting in on the action. Despite dry spells on offense to start the fourth quarter while James was on the bench, the Lakers managed to tread water until he returned.
James immediately knocked down a jump shot upon checking back in and he helped stabilize what had become a stagnant offense. Ellington’s fifth 3-pointer of the game trimmed the Lakers’ lead to eight points with under 4 minutes remaining, though Ingram responded with a jumper to beat the shot clock.
When the Lakers’ lead was again cut to single digits, Caldwell-Pope made an acrobatic layup to create more separation. The Heat never drew closer than 11 points after that.