SALT LAKE CITY -- For the Miami Heat, playing at pace has been the goal in recent seasons. For LeBron James, it has been the story of his career.
With his 32 points in Monday night's 104-97 loss to the Jazz at EnergySolutions, James is on the cusp of being the youngest NBA player to reach 20,000 career points.
At 28 years, 16 days, is now 18 point shy of 20,000. The current youngest to 20,000 is Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who reached the scoring milestone at 29 years, 122 days. Next on the current list behind Bryant is Wilt Chamberlain, at 29 years, 134 days.
"It's more than a number," James said. "It means I've been able to stay healthy, for one. And I've been able to, I guess, play at this level at a high level, and been around teammates that allow me to play at a high level, as well.
"So it is more than number."
What's most impressive, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, is it's not the case of a player entering the league with a singular focus on scoring.
"What's most notable, probably, about the fact that he's been able to get to that milestone so quickly is he's not simply a scorer," Spoelstra said. "He's been criticized for that, not necessarily always having a scorer's mentality.
"He's a basketball maestro. And he'll make the right, necessary play, and oftentimes that's the extra pass, the hockey assist, the assist. And because of his talent and his ability to continue to get better, he's one of the best scorers this game has ever seen. But he didn't come into this league trying to set scoring records."
The advantage Bryant and James have had over other scorers has been the fast-tracking of their careers, moving directly from high school to the NBA, something the league no longer allows.
James was asked if that might make it tougher for his eventual mark to be broken.
"It looks like a thing of the past," he said, "but I wouldn't be surprised if it came back around."
Asked if players should be allowed to make the move that he and Bryant made, James said, "There's both sides to it. There's guys who have failed that have come straight out of high school. There's guys that have succeeded and are going to be future Hall of Famers. And guys that had great careers, too. So there's good and bad to it."
With James, there has been little downside these past three seasons with the Heat. But Spoelstra said that doesn't have the franchise overlooking what is being accomplished.
"Look," he said. "we make a conscious effort not to take for granted his talent. This is a generational type talent."
Forward Shane Battier sat out a third consecutive game Monday with a strained right hamstring, with a goal of possibly returning for Wednesday's game against the Golden State Warriors, the fifth game on this six-game trip.
"He's able to do some work," Spoelstra said, with Battier on the court during Monday morning's shootaround. "We're slowly just starting to build him up to the point where he'll be able to go."
The Heat also were without reserve forward James Jones, due to what the team said were "personal reasons."
That left them dressing only 12, instead of the maximum allowed 13, with center Dexter Pittman still on NBA Development League assignment with the Sioux Falls (S.D. Skyforce).
The absences of Battier and Jones contributed to Rashard Lewis playing a season-high 27 minutes, closing with 13 points.
This just may have been the coldest visit to Salt Lake City in the franchise's 25 seasons, with overnight temperatures dipping below zero.
"I've seen snow before," James, an Ohio native, said. "I've seen cold weather. It's cold out here. I'm not going to say it's not cold, but it's not like I haven't seen it before."
The weather didn't stop James from venturing outdoors, going as far as to solicit local restaurant suggestions on Twitter.
To Wade, the altitude remains the issue from a competitive, indoors standpoint.
"It's a tough place to breathe, first of all," he said.
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