LeBron scores 30, Heat roll past Jazz 117-94

In the third quarter, LeBron James lost his headband and turned

his left ankle.

Neither slowed him for long.

James finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists

despite getting an extended break after tweaking the ankle, Dwyane

Wade added 27 points and the Miami Heat beat the Utah Jazz 117-94

on Monday night.

It was the best shooting night in team history, Miami connecting

on 63.4 percent of its shots. James led the way, making 13 of 17

attempts.

”I’m excited I could go back out there, make some plays and

finish the game off,” James said. ”But I know in the morning,

when I wake up, it’s going to be pretty sore.”

Chris Bosh scored 20 points for the Heat, who moved within two

games of Indiana for the East lead. Miami hosts the Pacers on

Wednesday.

Alec Burks scored a career-high 31 points for Utah, which got 17

from Derrick Favors.

”We didn’t match their intensity in the second half,” Jazz

coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”Give them credit. They know what it

takes to get themselves out of holes.”

It was Miami’s 17th straight victory over a Western Conference

opponent, the second-longest regular-season streak by an Eastern

Conference team in NBA history. Boston won 20 straight over the

West during a nine-month span of 1973.

A game in December pitting the two-time defending champions

against the team with the worst record in the West wouldn’t seem

all that likely to conjure some NBA Finals memories.

Then James lost his headband, and once again, everything started

to click for the Heat.

Just like in Game 6 of the Finals against San Antonio this past

June, when James had his terrycloth accessory knocked to the court,

something just seemed to change about his game. Miami was up only

three points when James went without the headband, and the lead was

up to 13 later in the quarter.

Miami outscored Utah 36-21 in the third. The Heat had been

outscored 56-33 in their two most recent third quarters

combined.

”The guys have owned that, addressed it, came out with great

activity, but also offensively, very aggressive in that third

quarter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”The last two games we

settled, less energy that we brought to that quarter offensively,

less patience.”

James left late in the third quarter after twisting his ankle on

a dribble about 30 feet from the basket. After re-lacing his

sneaker – his typical self-inflicted treatment for ankle twists –

he wound up getting subbed out a few seconds later. He walked off

the court slowly, took a seat on the floor near the Heat bench and

smacked his hand on the hardwood with such anger that the hit could

be heard halfway up the arena.

”He does it once a year,” Bosh said. ”This is his time. It’s

usually in December, too. Got that out of the way and now we can

keep moving on.”

During the stoppage between the third and fourth quarters, James

didn’t even get up to join his teammates at first, remaining down

with a towel over his head. He eventually got to his feet, draping

the towel around his neck and largely keeping to himself, shrugging

his shoulders when Bosh approached to ask him something.

But he came in for Wade midway through the fourth, finished the

game, and the Heat cruised. Miami shot 68 percent after

halftime.

”I didn’t feel like we were in that great of a flow,” Wade

said. ”I guess the numbers prove me wrong.”

Burks made 12 of 17 shots for the Jazz. Enes Kanter had 14

points and eight rebounds for Utah, which led by as many as eight

points in the second quarter.

The Jazz wound up trailing by as many as 25.

”They did what they do,” Burks said. ”They had fast-break

plays and great stops to win the game.”

Norris Cole scored 13 points and Mario Chalmers finished with 12

for Miami.

The clincher came with 3:10 left. James drove right by Burks,

threw down a dunk while getting fouled and made the ensuing free

throw to get to 30 points and give the Heat a 109-90 lead.

All that remained undecided at that point was whether James

would get another triple-double. He wouldn’t, leaving one rebound

and one assist shy – the second straight game that’s happened.

It was the eighth time in James’ career that he finished exactly

one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double.

NOTES: Miami’s last loss in a regular-season game against a West

foe was against Utah, back in January. … The Jazz had only one

starter finish in double figures. … Jazz rookie Trey Burke shot 1

for 8, scoring a season-low three points. … Chalmers had eight

assists.