There were so many reasons why it shouldn't have come to this, whether it was the loss of Dwight Howard before this season or the absence of three of the Magic's top six scorers for this contest or the presence of a visiting Heat team that should have been more engaged from the open after losing two straight on the road.

There were so many reasons why LeBron James should have been winding down his 2012 from a cushioned courtside seat rather than sucking in wind, forced to work overtime on the final day of one of the most memorable years any hoopster has had.

Yet, on this Monday evening, all of those reasons, appropriately, were overridden.

Because after all he did during the previous 365 days of this leap year, the one in which James took the ultimate leap in his profession, he absolutely had to finish it like this, scoring seven points in the fourth quarter and then 10 more in the overtime to help Miami outlast Orlando 112-110.

"It's a must win to end the trip, end the year the right way, and we have to learn how to win on the road again," James said.

Now, could he finally reflect on all he had accomplished?

"I wish I had time," James said. "I hear it, and I've been fortunate enough to be in some very key moments in my life, winning a championship, winning a gold medal, being Sportsman of the Year, but I haven't really had time to sit back and look at everything that I've been able to accomplish.

"But it's been a good year, I know that, I know that, and I will never take this year for granted and probably never forget any of it."

This night won't rank with one in June, when he caressed the Larry O'Brien trophy and shouted it was "about damn time!" Still, it embodied the transformation of expectations of him, from widely mocked for shrinking in clutch situations to routinely expected to save his team.