NEW ORLEANS — You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
On try to steal his headband.
And you especially don’t make King James mad by ending his team’s shot at history with what he considered some extracurricular activity in the process.
Any thoughts that LeBron James and the Miami Heat would began to coast physically and mentally toward the playoffs quickly dissipated Friday in a 108-89 victory against the team unfortunate to be its next opponent, the Hornets.
At one point James, who was upset by hard fouls in Wednesday’s 101-97 loss at Chicago that ended the second-longest winning streak in NBA history at 27 games — not to mention a fan trying to grab his trademark headband after it was over — had 28 points to the Hornets’ 27.
He would finish with 36 points as the Heat clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Guess that’s what a day off in New Orleans can do to refresh your body and mind and set a course toward a second straight title.
“I wasn’t angry the other night,” James said. “I just look that way sometimes. I wasn’t angry tonight, either. As a team, we just want to get better, and we moved on tonight to show what kind of ballclub we have.”
And 18-year veteran forward Juwan Howard who joined the team March 1 halfway through the streak, said the streak was never the team’s driving force.
“Our season is all about winning another championship,” he said. “That’s why we didn’t practice (Thursday). It’s a long, grueling season, and you have to have days for your body to recover. We’re very proud of the streak, but it means nothing without a championship.”
One thing did happen during the streak: The Heat, or more precisely James, became more and more fan favorites in road games.
That was evident Friday by the cheers when the Heat, and especially James, did something. Before the game, there was a large number of fans waiting near the tunnel for the visiting team to enter the court. Almost all were in Heat gear. Most had objects they hoped would be signed, from pictures to balls to even shoes.
Usually, arena security is tolerant of fans, especially the younger ones, lining the rail before games. On Friday, they were chasing off those whose seats weren’t in the sections abutting the tunnel.
And on a night when there should have been, there was a noticeable lack of buzz for the home team.
Even though the Heat hadn’t played here since December 2010 and the game was officially a sellout, there was a sizable amount of empty seats. And if the crowd wasn’t evenly divided, it was no more than 60-40 for the Hornets.
That irked Monica Linam of Harvey, one of the denizens of Section 117 that call themselves the Bee-Zanies.
“It’s frustrating,” she said. “This is the Hornets’ home court, and it should be filled with Hornets fans.”
Sorry, Monica. Even if it had been, your team never had a chance Friday.
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