LeBron James struggles, but comes up clutch in Heat win

Chris Trotman

In one of his weakest games of the season, LeBron James shot just 29 percent from the floor, but he came up big when it mattered.

Even aliens have off nights, occasionally. Super-duper-ultra-maybe-not-quite-human LeBron James has come back down to earth with a few average statistical performances in recent weeks, but Friday night's performance was arguably his weakest of the season. He shot 29 percent from the floor and finished with 18 points, aided by late trips to the free throw line as the Memphis Grizzlies attempted to extend the game by fouling.

James entered the fourth quarter with just four points and shot 1 for 8 from the floor through three quarters. He didn't get to 10 points -- keeping alive his streak of 475 consecutive games in double figures -- until there was 6:05 remaining in the game.

However, James did play well on defense and set up his teammates all night. Other than Mike Conley and Marc Gasol -- neither of whom James was ever asked to guard -- the Grizzlies struggled offensively. James nearly came up with a triple-double despite his struggles, finishing the game with 10 assists and eight rebounds to go along with two steals, a block and only one turnover.

Additionally, James' only three-pointer of the fourth quarter was one that really mattered. With the Heat up, 90-89, James drilled a contested three with 24 seconds remaining, putting the Grizzlies down two possessions and forcing them into desperation mode. They never got back into the game, as James went 5 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 17 seconds of the game, guiding Miami to a 98-91 win over one of the NBA's hottest teams.

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