LeBron James: 'Scoring not my job'
MIAMI -- So, what's more impressive to LeBron James?
He has scored at least 20 points in each of his first 23 games this season. He's the first player to do that since Karl Malone in 1989. Not bad. But then there's this: James hasn't been whistled for a foul in five straight games.
He was called for an offensive foul in the first quarter against New Orleans two weeks ago, but not a whistle since. That's a span of 212 minutes and change.
So which streak is James more proud of?
"The foul thing is more impressive to me," James said at Saturday's shootaround ahead of the Heat's matchup against the Utah Jazz. "I don't care about scoring as much."
James is averaging a career-low 18.2 field goal attempts per game this season and he admitted that he sometimes wonders what it'd be like to have 20 or 25 shots per game like some other superstars have taken over the years.
Currently, James ranks fifth in scoring with 25.2 points per game behind Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and James Harden. But Bryant and Anthony have a greater license to shoot this season, averaging over 20 field goal attempts per game.
James won the scoring title in 2007-08, the season after he reached the NBA Finals. He averaged 30.0 points per game that season and the Cavs lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Boston Celtics.
If James could shoot the ball that much, the scoring title would be his, James believes.
"If I wanted to, I could lead the league in scoring, but that's not my job here," James said.
"My job is to do a lot of everything -- rebounding, passing and defending so that takes away from my scoring. I've done (the scoring title) before. I'm capable of doing it, but my game sometimes doesn't allow me to have those big nights."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says James' scoring streak has been more impressive to him because James isn't solely focused on scoring. James has also managed to rank in the top 10 in assists and Spoelstra made it a point to note that James was the only non-point guard in the top 10.
If James wasn't so concerned about passing, how much could James average in the scoring column?
"He could average 37 points a game, realistically I think," said Spoelstra.
Back in 2005-06, James scored a career-high 31.4 points per game while averaging 23.1 field goal attempts per game, but he wasn't nearly as efficient as he is now. James is shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 43.4 percent from downtown here in his 10th season in the NBA.
As if James hasn't been impressive with his physical play already, James ran through the numbers in his head in front of reporters.
"I'm shooting 54 percent from the field right now, so if I shoot 54 percent at 25 shots a game? Pff, that's like ... doing my math ... that's 27 points right there. That's without shooting free throws and shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line."
If he maintained those percentages, the scoring title would likely be his.
"I could do it if I wanted to," James reiterated.
When a reporter brought up the fact that Bryant took 46 shots when he scored 81 points, James laughed and said he wouldn't be able to do that on this Heat team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also needing the ball.
"There's only a couple guys in the league that can do that, shoot 46 shots and Kobe is one of them," James said with a smile. "Melo, KD, maybe when he's feeling it. Monta (Ellis). Wow, 46 shots. I don't know."
The five games without fouling is James' longest streak since 2009 when the streak evolved into another impressive feat: just three fouls over the course of nine games. The longest foul-less streak over the past 15 seasons belongs to Steve Nash, who registered a goose egg in the "PF" column for 11 consecutive games last season in Phoenix.
James can extend both his scoring and foul-less streaks on Saturday against the Jazz, but he joked that the reporters jinxed him.
"I'm about to have two fouls in the first three minutes (on Saturday)," James joked to the circle of reporters. "And going to the bench, you watch me, I'm going to look at you guys over there. I know where you all sit."
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