MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat return to the court Thursday night for what could be the deciding game in LeBron James’ quest to capture a third NBA MVP trophy.

LeBron has been on fire in recent games and kept it up Wednesday night during the Heat’s blowout victory over the Toronto Raptors. LeBron scored 28 points on 12-15 shooting in just a little more than 30 minutes of play.

Shooting 80 percent for a game is almost unheard of in today’s NBA, but that’s just what LeBron did Wednesday. For the season, LeBron is shooting 53.3 percent and scoring 27.1 points, 6.3 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game.

LeBron leads the league in efficiency and is third overall in scoring behind only Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. The difference between James and the league leader in scoring, Durant, is 0.7 points.

But while it’s been easy for LeBron to manhandle the Bobcats and Raptors, he steps way up in competition Thursday with the Chicago Bulls coming to town. The Bulls currently lead the Heat by 2.5 games in the race for the Eastern Conference’s number one seed.

Chicago’s mission to beat the Heat may be a little bit tougher Thursday because last year’s NBA MVP Derrick Rose and fellow All-Star Luol Deng may both be out. It didn’t hurt the Bulls Wednesday night when they beat the Bobcats 100-68.

The Bulls have had Miami’s number so far this season, but the Heat appear to be starting to click with the same fire they had at the beginning of the season. Still, with the number two seed locked up, the Heat may choose to keep Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the bench.

Don’t expect LeBron to take a seat on the bench for the Bulls game though.

“It’s just how I am,” said James, whose 37.6 minutes per game ranks among the most in the league. “When I go on the floor, if I’m in uniform, I’m trying to play at the highest level. I don’t try to take minutes off or take games off when I can. … I just want to be the best.”

Against the Bulls this year, LeBron has averaged 33.3 points on 51.4 percent shooting. The last time the Bulls played in the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat sent them home with a loss and were powered by LeBron’s 35 points and 11 rebounds.


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