James looks to continue his impressive surge when the Cavaliers (7-6) visit the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
The Cleveland superstar posted his third triple-double of the season on Saturday in a 111-108 win over the Toronto Raptors. The 22-year-old had 37 points, including six in the final minute, and also added 12 rebounds and 12 assists in his team’s third win in the last four games.
“He’s phenomenal,” coach Mike Brown said. “He makes the triple-double seem effortless. I have to tell myself not to take it for granted.”
James is leading the league in scoring at 31.4 points per game and has averaged 39.0 points in his last five contests. He was 14-of-29 from the field on Saturday in Cleveland’s best shooting game of the season (51.8 percent).
The third triple-double matched New Jersey’s Jason Kidd for the most in the NBA. The rest of the league has combined for only two.
“I have to do what is best for the team to win. No matter what kind of plays I have to make, I need to do them. That is how I look at it,” James said.
James and the Cavs are looking to win three straight for the first time this season. Despite James’ outburst, his team has struggled to put together any kind of winning streak during the first month of the season.
Cleveland, however, has done well against the Pacers (6-7) recently. The Cavs have won three straight and six of seven against Indiana after losing 16 of the previous 21. James is averaging 24.8 points against them in his career, including 27.3 points against them last year.
Indiana also appears to be gaining momentum. After losing six straight, the Pacers have won three of four, including a 111-107 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Despite playing without six-time All-Star Jermaine O’Neal in their last two games, the Pacers have maintained a balanced attack. Six players scored in double figures on Friday, led by 25 points from Danny Granger and a season-high 24 from Jamaal Tinsley.
Indiana is averaging 109.6 points per game in the last five contests.
“I consider this our best game,” said Tinsley, who is averaging 17.3 points in the last three games. “We know that we can compete and win at this level against any good teams.”
The Pacers scored 62 points in the first half and built a 25-point lead before nearly blowing it in the fourth quarter. Dallas tied the game at 98 with 5:48 remaining, but Indiana managed to hold on.
“We’re starting to come together as a team, and tonight we could see it,” center Jeff Foster said.
O’Neal, who is sidelined with swelling in his left knee and lower leg, remains day-to-day. Coach Jim O’Brien told the Pacers’ official Web site earlier this week that the team is prepared to go on without him.
“We have enough depth at the big spots that if he can’t go, we go with the people that are healthy,” O’Brien said.