James scores 37 to lead Heat past Phoenix 103-97
By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX (AP) LeBron James almost never has two bad games in a row.
So after matching his season low with 13 points in Miami's' loss at Utah last Saturday, the four-time MVP was back being LeBron again in Phoenix.
James scored 37 points and, as usual, was the critical component of the big plays down the stretch in the Heat's 103-97 victory over the Suns on Tuesday night.
He also had five steals, and his prettiest play might have a laser pass to Chris Bosh for a 3-pointer that pretty much sealed the victory with 40.3 seconds to go.
It was James' highest-scoring game since Dec. 28 and just two points off his season high.
"It was good to see us respond," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And this response started yesterday in practice. There wasn't any dancing around it, we were flat and we didn't bring a game necessary to win on the road against Utah."
They brought that energy, and a healthy respect, to the Suns, though.
"That (Phoenix) is a really good team," James said. "They are the surprise team of our league this year."
The Suns lost to Miami for the eighth time in a row.
"They make plays at the end of games," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek saiad. "They have done it for the last two years, two and a half years, now."
The Heat converted 16 Suns turnovers into 24 points.
Of his five steals, James said it was something he's been doing for years.
"Just being able to anticipate plays, seeing the pass before it happens or shoot the gap like that," James said. "I have been doing it throughout my career."
Dragic, the Suns' catalyst, was frustrated by a defense that sent various players at him, forcing him to get rid of the ball earlier than he wanted and keeping him from his trademark penetration. He wound up 4 of 12 shooting.
Miami used an 11-0 run, capped by a roundhouse breakaway dunk by James, to go up 62-55 with 6:40 left in the third quarter. But Green scored all of Phoenix's points in an 8-1 spurt, including two 3s, and it was tied at 63-63 with 4:42 left in the period.
Tucker's behind-the-back pass to Markieff Morris for a dunk just before the buzzer put the Suns up 74-71 entering the fourth.
Miami took the lead for good on Norris Cole's 3-pointer that made it 83-80 with 7:21 to play and it as 92-87 when James made one of two free throws with 3:27 left. Four consecutive free throws, the last two by Green, cut Miami's lead to 92-89 with 2:48 left.
But after Bosh's offensive rebound, James sank an 18-footer then stole a pass for a breakaway dunk to make 96-89. Green's fifth 3-pointer of the night cut the lead to 96-92, then Bosh sank that 3 40.3 seconds before the end.
James was called for a technical after he was fouled by Green with 25 seconds to go. Green made the technical free throw, then James made two freom the line at the other end and it was 101-95 with 25 seconds left.
In front of their biggest home crowd of the season, the Suns shot out to a 12-0 lead. The Heat used a 10-0 run at the end of the first quarter and start of the second, then had an 8-0 spurt to take go ahead for the first time, 33-32 on James' driving layup with 6:11 left in the half.
There were seven lead changes the rest of the quarter, with Phoenix up 46-43 at the break.
Miami, the NBA's best field goal shooting team at 50.8 percent, shot 38 percent in the first half, 1 for 11 on 3-pointers. The heat picked it up to 57 percent in the second half.
Notes: Wade has missed 13 games this season. ... Miami plays its last game before the All-Star break Wednesday night at Golden State. ... The Heat's longest losing streak this season is three games. ... Phoenix had won 11 in a row when Green scored at least 20. ... The crowd of 17,927 was about 500 short of a sellout.
Updated February 12, 2014