The Norman Transcript

Sports

February 26, 2013

Heat in the driver’s seat

(Continued)

MIAMI —

By any measure, the Heat have hit the accelerator this month and pulled away from the Eastern Conference.

After games of Feb. 1, Miami’s lead in the East was a mere half-game over the New York Knicks. But entering Monday’s games, the Heat led Indiana by six games and the Knicks by 61⁄2 games in the race to be the No. 1 seed in the East.

There’s no magic formula for it, Spoelstra said.

“There’s simply more effort, more focus, more commitment,” Spoelstra said. “Sometimes it comes down to those basic things.”

Then again, there are two statistical reasons why as well — namely James having perhaps the best month of his career, and Wade feeling as good as he has at any point this season.

Assuming James does not shoot 0-for-15 against the Kings, he will finish a full month with a shooting percentage of better than 60 percent for the first time in his career — plus will likely win his fourth straight East player of the month award.

He often says that he brings the same focus into every game, no matter the stakes. But clearly, the reigning MVP has raised his game of late.

“I do try to approach the game the same way each and every game, don’t try to get too high or too low,” James said. “I approach it with intensity and focus, but I understand certain games are different and certain times of the year are different, too.”

“I can’t sit here and say a February game is the same as an October game. I’m not going to sit here and say that. But it’s good to be in a situation where we can play ball at the right time of the season.”

Wade is averaging 22.7 points so far in February, putting him on pace for his highest-scoring full month of the season, one that started with him trying to work back into form after offseason knee surgery kept him out of the Olympics.

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