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February 14, 2011

Crunch time isn't LeBron's time

BOSTON — If an NBA game were 47 minutes long, LeBron James might be the best the sport has ever seen.

But the Miami Heat forward certainly hasn't earned a reputation as Mr. Clutch.

Yesterday afternoon in a nationally-televised showdown between the East's (and perhaps the NBA's) top two teams, James was his typical superstar self until it mattered most.

He clanged the first free throw with 12.5 seconds left and the Heat trailing by 2. Then when the visitors got the ball back, he passed up an open 3-pointer to let Mike Miller try to be the hero. His 3 wouldn't fall and Boston held on for an 85-82 win.

It was a huge win for the C's, who had lost three of their previous four games while the streaking Heat had won eight straight.

Injury-ravaged Boston had blown a 13-point fourth-quarter lead but LeBron couldn't deliver the knockout punch.

Again.

This was his sixth straight loss to the C's (three with Cleveland, three with the Heat).

LeBron's extraordinary talents can't be questioned, but his heart? Until he wins the big one, the 26-year-old, eighth-year pro will have his critics.

Without Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Semih Erden, Marquise Daniels, Delonte West and Nate Robinson (he was pulled early due to injury), the Green were reportedly holding open tryouts at halftime for a roster spot.

Plus, a battered and bruised Paul Pierce (foot and hand injuries) was brutal, missing all 10 of his shots and scoring just one point, his lowest output in a game since 1999.

And King James still couldn't deliver a win!

Furthermore, Rajon Rondo spent a lot of time covering James, who will likely win his third straight MVP award this spring. That's 6-8, 250 vs. 6-1, 178. Any true competitor takes that challenge and posts him up at will.

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