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Ominous warning from LeBron

Updated: 2013-04-23 08:11
By Associated Press in Miami, Florida ( China Daily)

 Ominous warning from LeBron

LeBron James of the Miami Heat passes during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at American Airlines Arena on Sunday in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 110-87. Mike Ehrmann / Agence France-Presse

Ominous warning from LeBron

Heat star says best is yet to come after impressive victory

LeBron James looked at the stat sheet, then looked at the cameras and said words that were absolutely not what the Milwaukee Bucks wanted to hear.

They might have even seemed downright ominous.

"We know we can play a better game," James said.

His assessment came after the defending NBA champion Miami Heat pretty much did whatever they wanted in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

James scored 27 points on 9-for-11 shooting - finishing two assists shy of a triple-double - while Ray Allen scored 20 off the bench and the Heat picked up where they left off in last year's playoffs, never trailing on the way to beating the Bucks 110-87 on Sunday night.

James also had game-highs of 10 rebounds and eight assists. According to STATS LLC, in the past 27 years, only Anthony Mason had finished a game (albeit one of the regular-season variety) with at least 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on 11 or fewer shots until the league's reigning MVP did it on Sunday.

"He's in playoff mode," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.

Wade scored 16, Chris Bosh added 15 and Chris Andersen finished with 10 on 4-for-4 shooting for the Heat, who opened their title defense by holding Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting.

Brandon Jennings scored 26 points and Monta Ellis added 22 for the Bucks, who have not won the opening game of a playoff series since May 2001.

Game 2 is on Tuesday in Miami.

"We've got nothing to lose," Jennings said. "Nobody should be scared or anything. Let's just hoop."

It might take more than that. The Bucks lost by 23, and afterward, it was the Heat who seemed like the team more disappointed in its level of play.

Miami shot 7 of 23 from 3-point range, nearly 10 percent worse than its regular-season norm in that department. The Heat turned the ball over 19 times, five more than usual. They gave the Bucks 22 points off those miscues, which matched Miami's sixth-highest total of the season.

And yet they still outscored Milwaukee in every quarter, led by as many as 25 in the late going and outrebounded the Bucks 46-31 - especially impressive considering the Bucks finished the regular season with the fifth-most rebounds per game in the league while Miami finished the year ranked last out of 30 teams.

"It's a great way to start the series," Bosh said. "They're a feisty team over there. We wanted to make sure that we played good on defense and keep doing what we've been doing."

James took a bit of a break at the end of the season while dealing with a strained right hamstring, was excused from the team for its final regular-season game to tend to personal matters and said he came back to Miami late last week rested, refreshed and ready to open the title defense.

It showed. He alternated between steady and showtime modes, either running the offense or getting to the rim for spectacular left-handed dunks.

"We love him in that mode," Wade said. "The time away was good and now he's focused on his goal and his goal is to dominate every game and help take this team to a championship."

James had taken only 11 shots in a playoff game twice before, and his postseason per-game average entering Sunday was just under 21 tries.

(China Daily 04/23/2013 page24)

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