Not to make too much of it at this point of the season, but you have to wonder if LeBron James might benefit from a little more rest to help get over the groin injury that sidelined him for one of the four games of recent western road swing.
James scored 26 points and had five rebounds and five assists in Thursday’s 123-114 loss at home to the Golden State Warriors, following up a 26-point, 6-rebound, 10-assist effort in the 97-94 comeback win at Denver on Monday.
So it’s not like his numbers are all that bad in the two outings he has had since sitting out Saturday night’s win at Portland with groin and ankle problems.
Still, he doesn’t seem to be playing with the usual dominance when the game comes down to the stretch.
On Friday night, when the injuries first became evident, he settled for a jump shot instead of going to the basket in the closing seconds of regulation at Sacramento, and when it missed, the Kings went on to win in overtime.
Against the Warriors, he had a season-high eight turnovers, one when he actually left skid marks on the AmerianAirlines Area floor after taking a tumble on a break-away drive.
With 3:16 left in the game, he went to the foul line with the chance to get the Heat, having cut a 10-point deficit down to 113-107, within four points. But he missed both chances.
The Warriors didn’t take advantage of that opening right away, and when David Lee missed at the other end, it seemed a case of no harm being done, especially when James rebounded and began rushing to the other end.
But instead of bulling his way through the lane and getting a layup or foul or both, as is typical of him, James lost control of the ball. Stephen Curry got the steal and converted the turnover into a 3-pointer and a nine-point Warriors cushion.
Whatever momentum the Heat had going for them dissipated at that point, and the Warriors went on to their seventh consecutive victory.
Again, there’s no reason to get overly concerned about James’ play at this point. He does have a history of bouncing back from “off” nights -- and despite his points an eight-turnover game is an “off” night for him -- with big performances his next opportunity. That comes up Saturday when the Heat visit Orlando to take on the Magic.
If he scores 30 for the night with half coming in the fourth quarter as the Heat rally from a 10-point deficit, those miscues against the Warriors will be long forgotten.