ORLANDO, Fla. - It wasn't in front of 15,000 fans and it was a loss, but LeBron James' star continued to shine.
Even as the Orlando Pro Summer League returned to its usual home inside the fanless and emotionless Magic practice facility after Tuesday night's charged atmosphere at the T.D. Waterhouse Centre, James delivered more impressive play Wednesday.
He scored a game-high 17 points with three assists and three steals in a game the summer Cleveland Cavaliers fell 82-78 to their counterparts from the Miami Heat.
James was a little off the game he showed in his debut, perhaps showing some fatigue from five practices and two games over the last five days. He went just 7-of-18 from the floor and turned the ball over five times.
For the most part, though, James looked to be the best player on the floor - again - further proving the hype machine's merit.
"It was kind of hard to get worked up without a lot of people in here," James said. "In front of a crowd you get that rush. Today it was like practice."
James played point guard for nearly every possession in his 29 minutes on the floor. Though the assist total belies it, he again showed great vision in the set offense and running the break. Several potential assists were wasted by missed baskets or stopped by fouls.
"He understands the game totally, he has a knack for doing the right thing at the right time," Cavaliers Coach Paul Silas said. "He seems to always make the right pass, that's something you can't teach. Guys are going to love him because he gives up the ball."
He was at his best on the fast break, feeding Darius Miles and Juneau's Carlos Boozer on breakaways and once finishing an alley-oop from Miles with a dunk on a break.
"When guys run the floor with me I'm going to give them the ball," LeBron said. "These guys are starting to find that out."
James did throw several passes away, getting a little loose with delivery, and wasn't able to penetrate as effectively as in Tuesday's victory over Orlando. But his poise in just his second game at the point furthered the Cavs' belief that he'll be the long-term solution there.
"Miami defended a lot better (than Orlando), he didn't have free reign in there," Silas said. "It is going to take him time to become acclimated to the physical play."
One man who did look acclimated was Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate. The second-year power forward bulled his way to a game-high 11 rebounds to go with 15 points. His offensive rebound and putback of James' missed free throw tied the score at 78-78 in the final minute.
"He's a monster in there," Silas said. "He has a chance to be a leader on this club."
The surprise of the day for Cleveland was Latvian point guard Kristaps Valters. The 21-year-old showed great energy and earned 16 minutes, scoring 10 points with three assists and two steals. Miles had a solid effort, scoring 10 points with six rebounds.
Caron Butler led Miami with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Heat first-round draft pick Dwyane Wade added 10 points, including a short jumper with 4.1 seconds left to provide the winning margin.
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