It wasn't the number of points that stuck out, but the fact that he scored 31 points on 14 shots. Seriously.
LeBron shot 13-of-14 on the night and made five of his six free throws, scoring a mess of points without even attempting a three-pointer in his 38 minutes of action.
NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2013
In other words, the LeBron James that everyone has been clamoring to see the past three years showed us just what he is capable of against the Bobcats, and it should frighten the rest of the league even more than he already has.
He finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals in a game that was so pedestrian for LeBron, but at the same time downright amazing.
There have been six instances this season of an NBA player putting up at least 31, 8 and 8. LeBron has five of them. (Westbrook the other.)— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) February 5, 2013
LeBron won the MVP last year. Playing even better this year. Well, you figure it out.— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) February 5, 2013
What LeBron has done over the course of this season is more or less encapsulated by what he did in this win over the Bobcats.
No, he's not constantly attacking the paint, but it's something he's been a lot more adept at doing over the course of the season, and is now shooting an incredible 55.5 percent from the field.
There were just two incidents in his career in which he shot at least 80 percent from the field in a contest. He had a 12-of-15 shooting night against the Toronto Raptors and a 9-of-11 night against the New Jersey Nets, both last season.
Last 5 times player shot 92.9% from field or better (min. 14 shots)- Shaq (2x), Gary Payton (14-14!), Dwight Howard, and LeBron James— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 5, 2013
This game was so far and above those two that it has to be looked at in a completely different frame of mind. Just look at this shot chart and you'll just about get there.
In a game where the Heat were far from dominant against a much lesser team, LeBron did exactly what he needed to do, cuing in on the team's biggest weakness and picking apart the interior defense.
Whether it was the weaker Byron Mullens, the slower Bismack Biyombo or just one of the unfortunate wingers who decided it was their chance to take a turn at checking LeBron, he got past them all, save a single awry attempt.
In all, he missed a free throw in the fourth quarter and a four-footer that caromed off the rim in the third.
It seems as if this new, uber-efficient LeBron is going to be here for the long haul—at least as long as his body lets him insert himself into the paint as often as he likes.
After three games of an 80-plus field-goal percentage in the past year, LeBron has obviously learned how to use his body and his talents to the best possible extent.
I'd like to tell you that he's peaking, that we just saw as good as LeBron gets, but I don't believe that either. Shudder if you're a fan of another team, but there's still room to grow. Even if we can't see it, that doesn't mean it's not there.
As for the MVP race, considering how well LeBron's playing, it's hard to honestly believe that Kevin Durant has been better.
Even still, this game is just another in the growing list of magnificent performances that has made this one of the best NBA seasons in recent memory. Let's hope they keep coming.