LeBron James deftly handled Cleveland Caveliers on the court and on the bench. Cleveland fans unleashed their pent-up anger about Lebron James Thursday night, but the Cavaliers failed to show much fire.
It was not a happy homecoming but it was a spectacular one as LeBron James scored a season-high 38 points to lead the Miami Heat to a convincing 118-90 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Returning to Ohio for the first time since moving to Miami to form a super team with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, James received the hostile reception he expected from fans who booed him relentlessly from the moment he skipped onto the court until the final buzzer.
A bitter crowd arrived hoping that the Cavaliers might humble the Heat and make James regret his decision.
Instead it was merciless James, who delivered the type of performance that only reminded Cleveland of what they were missing as he dropped 24 points in a sensational third quarter that put the contest out of reach.
James was poised, relaxed, and joking with his former teammates, who put in a sub-par performance. James would spend the fourth quarter watching from the bench, savoring the Heats third straight win as a dejected crowd quietly trickled out of the arena.
"We came here with one goal and that was to win a basketball game," James said, who also had eight assists and five rebounds to round out a productive night. "We did that. This was the most complete game that we had all year from start to finish."
For seven seasons and 619 games, James had been lavished with love by Cleveland but on Thursday, the Quicken Loans Arena shook with boos each time he touched the ball.
The heckling reached a crescendo just before the opening tipoff when James stepped over to the scorer's table, poured powder onto his hands and tossed it into the air -- repeating a ritual that had become his signature during his time in Cleveland.