All season, Erik Spoelstra has spoken of sacrifice.
This time, though, the sacrifice wasn't money or minutes or shots. It was sleep. The Heat's decision to stay in Toronto to watch the Super Bowl at a local upscale sports bar, while the players' clear preference, would come at that cost, with the weary travelers not straggling to their homes until nearly 4 a.m.
One of those players, LeBron James, had an early wakeup waiting, in order to take his sons to school.
So did he rest?
"While they were at school, absolutely," James said. "I had to take advantage of that time while they were gone."
He did, because at night, he would have another responsibility:
Putting the Bobcats to bed.
They wouldn't go so quietly in this 99-94 Heat victory, not even after coming into Monday's contest with a wee five road wins.
In fact, on a night in which the Heat sometimes appeared to play with little purpose, James needed to provide near-perfection. Never before in his career had he shot like this, converting 13 of 14 attempts for 31 points, with all but one of those shots coming with both feet inside the paint.
"At some point, you just realize, 'Boy, he's getting to the rim a lot,' " Spoelstra said. "He did it off the dribble, off of attacking, and he had a little bit more size when he got in there."
James, who said he felt "sleepy" when entering the building but not tired once on the court, didn't intend to exploit the smallish Bobcats that way. It just happened. He made his first eight attempts prior to a steal in the third quarter, which he tried to finish with a 4-footer.
"I got fouled on it," James said, smiling. "But it never stopped me before."
Even while confronted with James' excellence, the Bobcats didn't stop coming, due largely to a strong effort from their bench, featuring Ramon Sessions, Byron Mullens and Ben Gordon.
LeBron James sleepy but nearly perfect as Miami Heat top Charlotte Bobcats 99-94
Palm Beach Post | Feb 5