Atlanta, GA – The All-Star break came at the wrong time for the reigning MVP, but LeBron James picked up right where he left off prior to his trip to Houston this past weekend.
Although it wasn't a 30-point, 60-plus percent shooting effort, it was still more than enough to allow the Miami Heat to win their eighth straight game.
James filled the stat sheet with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with 11 assists, six rebounds and four steals in the Heat's 103-90 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks.
James averaged 30.8 points on 71.7 percent shooting during an unprecedented six-game stretch where he tallied at least 30 points on 60 percent shooting from the field.
He came up shy of extending his streak to seven in Miami's final tilt before the break, a victory in Oklahoma City over the Thunder. James finished with 39 points and shot a 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) clip from the floor.
Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat, who outscored Atlanta 40-17 in the fourth.
"Everybody felt comfortable on the offensive end. And then defensively, we were in tune with everything they were running," James said. "We got stops and we didn't have turnovers."
Josh Smith, one of the most-discussed names as a possible trade chip prior to Thursday's deadline, had 10 points, nine assists and nine boards for Atlanta, which had won three of its last four tilts going into the break.
"Just try to tune everything out, it's pretty much everywhere. So it's hard for it not to come up," Smith said of the swirling trade rumors. "Just focusing on basketball."
Al Horford netted 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting in defeat.
The Hawks built a 73-63 advantage heading into the fourth, but the Heat got hot to begin the final frame and clamped down defensively to take over the contest.
Atlanta didn't record its first point until Smith's runner dropped with 8:27 in the period. Miami, though, had already built a 76-73 advantage prior to Smith's bucket as the visitors started the stanza on a 13-0 run.
Shane Battier hit a pair of 3-pointers during the burst. Following a pair of Battier and Ray Allen triples a bit later, which were sandwiched around a Horford alley-oop layup, the Heat built an 86-79 cushion midway through the stanza.
Miami led by as many as 14 down the stretch.
The Heat jumped out to a 24-17 edge after a quarter of play, but Atlanta outscored the visitors 32-21 in the second to take a 49-45 spread into the locker room.
James netted 18 points in the first half ... The Hawks had 28 assists on 36 made field goals ... Atlanta had reached 100 points in each of its last five tilts heading in.