LeBron on a roll unlike any in NBA history

When LeBron James first heard about this streak of games with at
least 30 points and 60 percent shooting, he did not immediately
think about who was on the list.

He thought about who wasn’t.

Wilt Chamberlain? Not there. Michael Jordan? Not there.
Shaquille O’Neal? Not there, either. In NBA history, only Adrian
Dantley and Moses Malone had put together five straight 30-point,
60-percent efforts – that is, until James joined their
super-exclusive club.

And now, he stands alone.

James scored 30 points on 11 for 15 shooting to get into the NBA
record books, Chris Bosh scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds,
and the Miami Heat wound up beating the Portland Trail Blazers
117-104 in a wild, momentum-swinging game Tuesday night.

”It kind of blew my mind,” James said. ”To see how small the
list was and for me to even be a part of the list, to start off,
it’s like, `Wow.”’

”Wow” doesn’t even come close to summing up how he’s been in
the last six games. He’s shot 66 for 92 – and take away a ”slow”
6-for-12 start at Toronto on Feb. 3, he’s made 60 of his last 80
field-goal tries, a ridiculous 75 percent success rate. He’s scored
either 30, 31 or 32 points in all six of these games.

His latest brilliance came in Miami’s 1,000th regular-season
win. But the only history anyone will remember was what James
accomplished.

”I’m at a loss for words,” James said. ”Like I say over and
over, I know the history of the game. I know how many unbelievable
players who came through the ranks, who paved the way for me and my
teammates.

”And for me to be in the record books by myself with such a
stat – any stat – it’s big-time.”

Dwyane Wade added 24 points for Miami, which wasted a pair of
14-point leads – then put the game away with a 14-0 run in the
final minutes. Ray Allen added 14 for Miami.

Damian Lillard had a game-high 33 points for Portland, which got
29 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 20 from Wesley Matthews. Just like
the Heat, the Blazers also saw a 14-point lead slip away in the
game, and then simply got shut down late by a stretch of airtight
Miami defense.

”That was typical Miami Heat stuff,” Lillard said.
”Transition, finishing strong around the rim, and LeBron picking
defenses apart.”

Pretty good assessment from the rookie. For as great as he was,
it was James’ night.

”That’s why he is who he is,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
”The best player in the game.”

Added Wade: ”Obviously, he is doing something that is amazing
and special.”

And on a night when the teams took turns putting together big
runs, it was the Heat who had the last rally – ultimately, the last
laugh as well.

With the game tied at 99, James drove baseline on former
Cleveland teammate Sasha Pavlovic for a two-handed slam that he
punctuated with a long scream.

The Heat immediately responded. Matthews made a 3-pointer on the
next Portland possession to give the Trail Blazers their last lead.
Miami scored the next 14 points, and when James got loose for a
dunk with 2:38 remaining, the 30-point mark – and history – was
his.

”He played a very good basketball game,” Spoelstra deadpanned
afterward. ”That’s all you’re going to get out of me right now. He
competes. He loves to compete. He loves close games. … And he’s
leading us, not just with his talent.”

Bosh made a jumper with 1:55 left to end the run and seal the
win, Miami’s sixth straight overall.

Miami next plays Thursday night in Oklahoma City, an NBA Finals
rematch before heading into the All-Star break. The Heat topped the
Thunder in the first meeting of the clubs this season, winning in
Miami on Christmas Day.

”It’s a game we’ll look forward to,” Wade said.

A glance at the halftime boxscore – Portland 59, Miami 58 –
would have suggested the opening two quarters were closely
contested, back-and-forth basketball.

Not exactly.

Miami started with a flurry, hitting its first seven shots and
doing so with James collecting five assists in the game’s first
3:52. The Heat led 14-5 after that burst, and were still shooting
75 percent with a minute to go in the opening quarter.

They also were trailing at that point. The Blazers were doing
anything they wanted on the offensive end.

”I thought it was a good effort by our team,” Blazers coach
Terry Stotts said. ”Miami’s one of the best if not the best team
in the league right now and they are playing at a high level. We
matched it for about 44 minutes.”

More than matched it for a while, too.

Aldridge went on a personal 13-0 run over a stretch of nearly
four minutes midway through the half, single-handedly seeming to
turn what was a 29-24 Portland deficit into a 37-29 Portland lead.
And another quick burst, this time a 10-1 run by the Blazers, gave
the visitors what was their biggest lead, 57-43 with 4:48 left in
the half.

Take away Miami’s sizzling start, and the Blazers outscored the
Heat 52-29 over a huge swath of the first half. Miami answered with
a 34-12 run, rebuilding a 14-point lead midway through third.

And after Portland had one more rally, it was all Miami in the
final minutes.

NOTES: It was the 25th time Lillard scored more than 20 points
this season, adding to his rookie-of-the-year credentials. …
Aldridge has at least 11 field goals in each of his past five
games. … The Heat were without Mike Miller, the latest victim of
the flu bug that has ripped through the locker room, and lost
starting forward Udonis Haslem to a lower-leg contusion in the
opening quarter. X-rays on Haslem’s shin were negative.