LeBron James had a half-hour meeting with coach Erik Spoelstra and then scored 30 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 105-94 home victory over a Washington Wizards team that remains winless on the road this season.
Last night’s win was the second in six games for Miami, which has stumbled to a 10-8 record with the All-Star trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The National Basketball Association’s two-time reigning Most Valuable Player, James said he’s trying to ignore off-court distractions surrounding the team -- from media reports about players’ displeasure with Spoelstra to offensive struggles and his return to Cleveland in two days.
“I’ve been around this block long enough where I’ve seen everything, heard everything,” James, 25, said during a news conference. “When things are going bad you try to nitpick and find whatever you can find. I don’t get too carried away with it because I understand there’s a next day and an opportunity to get back on track.”
James, Wade and Bosh combined to score 76 points as Miami topped 100 points for the first time in seven games.
“There’s a lot of things swirling with the Miami Heat off the court, we have to talk about it and we have to hear questions about it,” Wade said. “But like coach told us before the game, ‘There are 2 1/2 hours on this court that we get to do what we love to do. Let’s have fun with it, let’s work hard and then we’ll deal with the rest later.’”
Frustration With Spoelstra
According to an ESPN report yesterday, some Heat players are frustrated with Spoelstra and don’t think he’s the right coach for the team. Players have questioned Spoelstra’s offensive strategies and think he’s panicking because his job is in jeopardy, ESPN said, citing unidentified people close to the situation. The Heat had a 40-minute players-only meeting after their Nov. 27 loss in Dallas.
“I call these ‘healthy conflicts,’” Spoelstra told ESPN after his meeting with James yesterday. “I truly believe these are good for a team. As long as you can survive these, it’ll make you stronger. It’ll make your bond stronger.”
Spoelstra collected his 100th career coaching win last night, when the Heat led by as many as 22 points. The Wizards played without No. 1 draft pick John Wall, who has a bruised right knee, and are now 0-8 on the road this season.
Miami’s Juwan Howard was ejected from the game with 32.3 seconds left in the third quarter after shoving Washington’s Hilton Armstrong in the back and sending him sprawling to the court at AmericanAirlines Arena. Armstrong had flagrantly fouled Miami’s Joel Anthony on a layup attempt and Wade said he was pleased to see Howard come to his teammate’s defense.
“A lot of teams over the course of our games have taken cheap shots at us and I love what Juwan did,” Wade, who scored 26 points, said in a televised interview. “He was stepping up for his teammate and it really fired us up.”
The Heat host Detroit (6-11) tomorrow before visiting the Cavaliers (7-9) on Dec. 2. James left Cleveland in July after seven seasons.
Miami is 9-1 against teams at or below .500, winning by about 14 points a game. The Heat have a 1-7 record when playing teams with winning records, including six straight losses.
“Right now we’re in a day-by-day process,” Wade said in a televised interview. “We’ll come back (tomorrow) and try to get another win on our home floor.”