OAKLAND, Ca. — It was a fitting end to the unofficial halfway point of the NBA season. The face of the NBA, its best player, and the reigning Most Valuable Player, LeBron James, hit a game winning step-back 3-point shot to lift the Miami Heat over the Golden State Warriors, 111-110, in Golden State Thursday.
There was considerable buzz in the Oracle Arena as the Heat made its only visit to the Bay Area last night. Every time the two teams have matched up in the past couple of years, fans have been treated to an entertaining contest between two good teams. Last night’s game could have been the best so far.
Feeling the pressure of high expectations from the media and the fans, the Warriors, 31-22, wanted to begin their All-Star break on a high note by sweeping the season series from the Heat.
For LeBron, he has already silenced many doubters in the past by appearing in three straight finals and winning the last two finals. However, the road to a fourth-straight finals appearance may be the toughest yet because the Indiana Pacers are considered to be strong contenders to win the Eastern Division.
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Highlights: Heat vs. Warriors
LeBron James makes a step-back 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to carry the Heat past the Warriors 111-110.
As an individual, LeBron’s reign as the MVP of the league the last two years is being challenged by Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who without his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, has carried the Thunder team to one of the top records in the West.
For at least one night, in front of big stage in a sold out Oracle Arena and a hostile Warriors fan base, LeBron was able to show why he is still the best player in the league. Without Dwayne Wade, who was a late scratch with a foot injury, LeBron dominated the game with 36 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. But it was his game-winning shot over former all star, Andre Igudola, that was the talk of the game by fans, media, players and coach.
Warriors coach, Mark Jackson called LeBron the best small forward in the history of basketball. James’ teammate Shane Battier joked that James’ performance is proof that there’s God. Finally, Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson appropriately described LeBron’s performance as a big player making a big shot.
It should be an interesting final stretch of the regular season before the playoffs start in April.
Photo: Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)