The career triple-double count is now up to 35 (including seven with the Heat). The road record is now 16-11 to get out of the shabby zone. The lead in the Eastern Conference is up to 5 1/2 games. The winning streak is at 10 and counting.
Put it all together, and LeBron James is pulling away in the MVP race for a Miami Heat team that is finally playing with the pedigree, pride and determination befitting the defending NBA champions.
The race behind him?
We’re talking slippage, not grippage.
Count us among those who were aghast that the Oklahoma City Thunder did not make a move to improve their ballhanding at the trade deadline, shipping Eric Maynor off to Toronto and importing Ronnie Brewer from New York as an extra defensive specialist in the backcourt.
They will now be more reliant than ever on Russell Westbrook to protect the ball, unless they have their sights set on bringing in a veteran playmaker to help steer the slip when the playoffs arrive – much like Derek Fisher did last year. Westbrook is one of only three players in the NBA with at least 200 turnovers, the others being teammate Kevin Durant and former teammate James Harden.
If you cannot protect the ball, you are not going to be able to score the ball with optimum efficiency – which brings up back to LeBron.
The streak of shooting 60 percent in six consecutive games is now well behind us, but it has been nearly a month since The King shot less than 50 percent from the field. He also has shot below 40 percent once this season. Once. His field-goal percentage is up to an unfathomable .567, his rebounds (8.2) are a career high and his 2.94 turnovers are at a career low.
Starts to make you think about the whole debate over who is the next Michael Jordan – ‘Bron, or the guy that blocked two of his shots in the final moments of the All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered on that debate in another outstanding Sunday column from senior writer Jan Hubbard.
On to the ranks.
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