LeBron's Monday plan: Fly home at 3 a.m., take the kids to school, drop 31 points on Charlotte. Done.
By CHRIS TOMASSONFS Florida
LeBron James took his kids to school in the morning. Then he took the ball to the hoop at night.
James might have arrived home with his Miami Heat teammates at 3 a.m. Monday after a game and a Super Bowl party the day before in Toronto. But he was up a few hours later for fatherly duties.
While LeBron James Jr., 8, and Bryce Maximus James, 5, were in class, James went home and slept. Let's just say he was well rested for the evening game at AmericanAirlines Arena against Charlotte.
Plowing to the basket all night, James shot 13 of 14 for 92.9 percent, the best shooting game of his 10-year NBA career. He scored 31 points and had eight rebounds and eight assists in Miami's 99-94 win.
"I felt good all game," James said. "I didn't feel tired. I didn't feel jet lagged or anything. I felt a little sleepy when I came (to the arena). But I didn't feel tired at all during the game. I just had it going from the start."
Did he ever. James made his first eight shots before he finally missed a 4-footer in the lane late in the third quarter.
James appeared to be fouled on the play. That was the only thing the Bobcats could do to stop him.
"I don't cry about fouls," James said. "I got fouled on it. But that's never stopped me before."
James simply started a new streak. He made his next five shots and no doubt would have kept going had there been overtime.
The Heat (30-14) were fortunate there wasn't. Playing sluggishly against the team with the NBA's worst record (11-36), Miami led just 89-87 with 1:20 left when Bobcats center B.J. Mullens pulled down a rebound, apparently giving Charlotte a chance to tie.
But Heat center Chris Bosh stripped the ball from Mullens and threw down a dunk. That pretty much sealed the outcome.
"I'm just glad we were able to overcome it and get a win," said Bosh, who helped out James with 23 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. "We had a tough opponent. It's a long flight. Trying to get back situated at home is not easy."
There would have been plenty of second guessing had the Heat lost. They elected at the last minute Sunday to stay and watch the Super Bowl at a Toronto sports bar after the afternoon 100-85 win over the Raptors instead of flying home directly after the game. Had the original plan remained intact, they would have been in Miami four or five hours earlier after their four-game trip.
But James no doubt enjoyed watching the Super Bowl. He had plenty more fun dissecting the Bobcats.
James' previous best career shooting game had been 81.8 percent. That's when he went 9 of 11 on March 6, 2012, against the Nets.
"It happened in a win," James said of toppling that mark. "So it's always cool when you can help your team win games."
James didn't waste his time shooting jumpers against the outmanned Bobcats. He took the ball inside, with each one of his shots in the paint.
"He's making it look easy a little bit," Bosh said. "They couldn't do anything about it. They had to come double him."
That didn't help. James routinely sped by Bobcats as if he were using the left lane of the Autobahn.
The way James was scoring with ease, one might wonder why James didn't shoot more. Come to think of it, he wondered the same thing.
"It was one of those games I always look at afterward and say, ‘Why didn't you take more shots?"' said James, who said he didn't come in planning to pound the ball inside but continued the strategy after he had success in the paint. "But that's who I am."
It was one of James' most efficient games ever. Still, he's had so many brilliant games even his teammates took Monday's affair at least a bit for granted.
"I'm so accustomed to him having great games, you sometimes forget about his greatness," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. "You don't forget about his greatness, but you become immune. But it was special what he's able to do."
For James, a special day often is a routine one. It sure started out that way when James did what he usually does when in town.
But after taking his kids to school Monday morning, James made sure he went back in bed.
"While they were at school, I had to take advantage of that time while they were gone," he said.