James leads Heat with more than scoring

James leads Heat with more than scoring
June 10, 2013, 12:45 am
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MIAMI — Near the end of the first quarter, LeBron James had the kind of stat line you seldom see from him - no made baskets.

Of course he ended the drought with a mid-range jumper for the final basket made of the first quarter, but those early shooting woes would only continue through the game.

But even on a night when he never got into any kind of shooting rhythm, James still did more than enough to help the Miami Heat even up the NBA Finals by blowing out San Antonio, 103-84.

And while most would agree that James' play was a notch or two below what he's accustomed to, there was no mistaking him still being a difference-maker.

He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to go with three steals and three blocked shots while shooting 7-for-17 from the field.

And to think, James' numbers were actually worse in the victory on Sunday than they were in Miami's Game 1 loss when he a triple-double of 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.

Just like that, the narrative on James following the Heat's victory on Sunday was significantly different than it was following the Game 1 loss.

James said he wasn't sure what to make of his statistics being so similar in two games that had a radically different outcome.

"It's a 1-1 series," he said. "That's the only conclusion I know. We look forward to Game 3."

Following the Game 1 loss, there were calls for James to be a more aggressive scorer in Game 2.

But James, as he has done throughout this season, methodically went about picking his spots against the Spurs, sensing when to attack and when to find his teammates.

"He played solid basketball," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "He played good D [defense]. He took what was available, read the defense, involved his teammates. He did a fine job."

To hear folks talk about what he needs to do and not do, is just white noise to James' ears.

"I already know what we have here," James said. "Like I said, I don't really read into it what people want more of me or whatever the case may be. I will continue to find my shooters, if they're open. And I will continue to try to put pressure on the defense. If I draw two [defenders], I'll find my shooters. I have confidence they're going to knock them down."

And all those associated with the Heat have an unshakeable confidence that James will make the right decision, regardless of what others might think.

While acknowledging that James did struggle early on with his shot, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was pleased with James' overall game.

"You have to give credit to the competition," Spoelstra said. "They're scheming and ready and taking our normal strengths away from us, and you have to have a player and players that have a team ego to understand that next layer of offense. Sometimes that's facilitating. Sometimes that's screening. Sometimes that's executing offense and letting somebody else make a play against a very good defense. And that's what he showed tonight.

Spoelstra added, "even though a lot of people are unwarrantedly criticizing him for not being aggressive ... he's being aggressive. He's creating opportunities for us. It just might not be in the way you're accustomed to."