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The Miami Heat's LeBron James has already won three straight Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards heading into Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings, but Miami's king may have clinched a fourth with his 40-point performance in the Heat's twelfth win in a row.
James capped off one of the best months in NBA history with a stat line that only a few have ever pulled off. James finished with 16 assists and 8 rebounds, his second game ever with at least 40 points, 15 assists, and 5 boards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other player in NBA history has done that more than once: Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson.
James joined another Hall-of-Fame talent in the record books. He shot 64% from the field for the entire month of February. The last player to shoot that well for an entire month was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in March of 1983.
Earlier this month, James became the first player in NBA history to score 30 or more points while shooting 60% or better in 6 straight games (two others have done so over 5 straight games). Simply put, he is playing at a level that is rarely seen.
Barring an injury over the last 28 games of the season, it is hard to see anyone but James winning the NBA MVP award, which would give him his fourth trophy in ten NBA seasons (his first three came in the past four seasons).
How good is James playing this season? He leads the league in Player Efficiency Rating (an all-encompassing that that takes offense and defense into account) with 31.6 heading into Tuesday. The next player on the leaderboard is Kevin Durant at 28.7. James has led the league in PER for each of the past five seasons, but only in 2008-09 did he top his current PER (at 31.7).
James is second in the NBA in effective field goal percentage (which adds weight to three-point shots to account for the extra point) at .605. The only player ahead of him is New York center Tyson Chandler, who rarely shoots the ball from more than 10 feet away from the rim. James' previous career high was .554 in 2011-12.
James showed just how unstoppable his is in the second overtime period of Tuesday's game. The Heat outscored the Kings 17-5, and James scored or assisted on every point (11 points, three assists).
"Some great stat lines tonight," James said after the game. "But I'm happy I was able to do what I did and help our team win."
It's easy for Heat fans to become spoiled by James' greatness on the court, but the numbers he is continuing to put up are beginning to make it impossible to understate how good a basketball player he has become since joining the NBA as a precocious 18-year-old almost a decade ago.