Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 4/28/12
MIAMI - LeBron James was planning to go to the movies Saturday night. But if you think James had earned himself an evening off, think again. "I'm going to break down the film tonight," the Miami forward said shortly before he departed AmericanAirlines Arena following an afternoon of hard work. James had just scored 32 points in 32 minutes on 10-of-14 shooting and picked off four steals in the Heat's 100-67 rout of New York in Game 1 of an East first-round series. But no doubt James in his film studies will find things he believed he did wrong. This is one focused dude who is trying to finally win an NBA title in his ninth season. He showed up with a shorter haircut before the game as any Navy Seal would before a mission. "I feel a difference between Game 1 of last year's postseason against Philly and (Saturday)," said James, still smarting from last year's Finals loss to Dallas. "I'm a different player this year. I'm a different person this year compared to last year I've waited for this moment to get back to the postseason. I've prepared myself all season even through the offseason to get back to this point. I'm excited and I'm hungry and I'm blessed to be back here again." With that in mind, it's a wonder why anybody would do anything to fire James up even more. But that's what happened with 1:34 left in the second quarter when Knicks center Tyson Chandler crushed James with a hard pick. James staggered back and grabbed his neck as he'd just come down with whiplash. The officials immediately called Chandler for a flagrant 2 foul, which meant ejection. The officials reviewed the play and determined it was flagrant 1, which enabled Chandler to stay in the game. All that meant was he had to watch James dissect the Knicks the rest of the half. In a stretch heat coach Erik Spoelstra called "spectacular." James scored Miami's final nine points before halftime to reach 23. That extended the lead to 54-31 at intermission and came during the midst of a 32-2 run during the second and third quarters that took the score from 30-29 to 62-31. "I felt emotional from our fans," James said of his flurry. "Our fans are great. They didn't like the play so I fed off those guys. I fed off my teammates." James didn't believe Chandler's shot was malicious, calling it a "hard pick." Even though he was popped, he didn't want to give Chandler much credit. "It's all right," James said. "I've been hit harder than that. I played football (in high school)." Chandler, who called it a "legal pick," didn't think the play swung the momentum in Miami's favor. He figured his Knicks already were getting waxed. "It shifted before that," Chandler said. "(James) played well throughout the game." James' work was done for the night when the Heat led 81-47 and he then didn't play in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the opposing small forward was chipping paint off the rim. New York's Carmelo Anthony shot 0-of-7 in the first half and finished 3-of-15 for 11 points. Anthony, who had scored 42 points against Miami on April 15, was fronted by the Heat, and he admitted that surprised him. Doing much of the work on Anthony was Shane Battier. That enabled James to not wear himself out as much on defense. "What was great, Shane took some pressure off (James) and was able to guard him a lot," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "Enabled (James) to really put his stamp on the game." And stomp on the Knicks. While James joked after the game he got his hair cut short so he could go "back to my young boy look," he looked like anything but a youngster out there. The seasoned James has come out more focused than many ever have seen. When James hit a three-pointer just before the end of the third quarter to put the finishing touches on his night, teammates were whopping it up. But James showed no emotion. He might figure nothing is worthy of a celebration until he finally is handed the Larry O'Brien Trophy. "LeBron was LeBron," Heat forward Mike Miller said of the performance. "That's why he should be the MVP of the league and he proved it (Saturday) It's fun to watch when he gets it going like that." As for James, all he was planning to watch Saturday night was game film. One postseason win is in the books, but his mission won't be complete until he gets 15 more. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or Twitter @christomasson
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