MIAMI (Reuters) - LeBron James equalled a franchise record with his fourth straight 30-point game as the Miami Heat routed the Los Angeles Clippers 111-89 on Friday.
James put up 30 points off 9 of 11 shooting before sitting out all of the fourth quarter as Eastern Conference leaders and defending champions Miami dominated a Clippers team who are placed third in the West.
James was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player last season but is clearly pushing himself to exceed even that oustanding campaign.
In his last four games James has shot at a remarkable 73 percent - making 43 of 59 attempts and his performance on Friday was the first time in his career he has made 30 point on 11 or fewer shots.
“We try to come up with new superlatives every single game. He is the best player in the game and he is continuing to reinvent himself,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Miami’s victory was even more impressive given they were without center Chris Bosh and shooting guard Ray Allen who were both missing with flu.
Dwyane Wade, who looks to be on his way back to his best, added 20 points while Mario Chalmers compensated for Allen’s absence with 18 points, including five three-pointers.
While the Heat have had some bumps on the road this year, they are 21-3 at the American Airlines Arena and have won their last six at home.
The Clippers had guard Chris Paul back from injury after missing nine games but not surprisingly he looked short of full form while forward Blake Griffin was back after sitting out two games with a hamstring injury.
With Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford also back from injury, the Clippers finally had their preferred starting line-up back but it proved a difficult night.
“Everyone knows we have not played with that group in a long time but they were quicker and more physical than us. We also can’t turn the ball over the way we did - we gave them 27 points of those,” said Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro.
The Heat took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 11 points to go in 62-50 at the break and then they ran away with the game in the third scoring 31 to L.A’s 18.
Miami have tended to save their best displays for when facing potential play-off opponents as Spoelstra acknowledged.
“There is no question about it that when the lights are bright and the popcorn is popping, our guys come to life. That’s a great quality, but it is also a quality that could drive me nuts,” said the Miami coach.
The Heat host the other Los Angeles team, the in-form Lakers on Sunday. (Editing by Ian Ransom)