LOS ANGELES • With LeBron James as focused as he has been in years and Anthony Davis' ability to protect the rim, the Los Angeles Lakers have gone from one of the worst to the National Basketball Association's top-ranked team defence this season.
Their All-Star duo again combined to brilliant effect, leading the hosts to a 95-80 win over the Miami Heat for their seventh straight victory on Friday night.
Davis finished with a team-leading 26 points and eight rebounds and James turned up clutch in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 25 points.
While James had his streak of triple-doubles - the first player to do so since Magic Johnson 32 years ago - snapped at three games as he finished with six assists and four rebounds, he still notched his 1,000th career double-double.
Miami, who were paced by 22 points from Jimmy Butler, were held to their lowest-scoring and worst-shooting game of the term; they hit only 35 per cent from the floor and made just six of 35 three-point attempts. For their defensive efforts, James lauded his teammates for being "very resilient".
He said: "I just wanted to be aggressive (late on) and see if I could make it count.
"I'm extra motivated to put myself in a position where I know I belong. So it's my personal motivation every single night I step on the floor to be great.
LeBron James' triple-double streak is ended at three games. He had 25 points but only six assists and four rebounds against Miami.
"We bounce back and we don't get rattled. That's not common for a team that has only been together a short period of time, but it is a good trait."
Lakers coach Frank Vogel also hailed James' two-way production, telling the Los Angeles Times the forward was brilliant in how he "picks his spots on when to be assertive and when to play for his teammates".
"Throughout all that, while he is picking his spots, he's going to be in attack mode, he's going to read the defence," he said. "A lot of times early on, everybody is geared into him.
"They are bringing a lot of help so he's just making the right play. It's not about him being assertive or passive. He's used to being in attack mode."
James led Miami to two NBA titles from 2012-13, and having worked together, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra feels the four-time Most Valuable Player is not slowing down any time soon despite turning 35 next month.
"That's one of the best qualities that I've always admired about LeBron, that he puts so much into the game and into his craft," he said.
"A large part of that is his body and his physical well-being. To prepare himself at that level every single night for 82 games and beyond in the play-offs, that's a commitment a lot of players are not willing to do, and that's what makes him uncommon.
"It's a great example for young players coming in to see just how much you have to put in to stay at that level physically. And that, in turn, is the fountain of youth."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES