PORTLAND, Ore. -- He had pushed through back spasms, a sore ankle, the type of pounding and punishment that had led teammates to request time off. Saturday night, Miami Heat forward LeBron James finally took time for himself.
A night after straining his right groin in an overtime road loss to the Sacramento Kings, James sat out the Heat's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
James' absence leaves backup point guard Norris Cole as the lone Heat player to appear in all 30 games this season. James had been the lone Heat player to start each of the first 29 games.
"We want to get healthy. That's our main thing," James said, with teammates Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen returning Saturday after sitting out Friday's game in Sacramento. "We want to get healthy."
Center Chris Andersen was held out for a second consecutive game, dealing with back and neck issues.
"He is getting better," coach Erik Spoelstra said of the player known as Birdman, "but boy was he sore the last few days."
James twisted his left ankle early during the loss to the Kings, later aggravating his groin. He nonetheless pushed through to go 44 minutes against the Kings, playing to the finish.
"I don't know what happened," he said of the groin injury.
He worked out briefly before Saturday's game before returning to the locker room, not available pregame for further comment.
James, who turns 29 Monday, when the Heat play the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in the fourth and final stop on this four-game trip, passed Larry Bird (21,791) and Gary Payton (21,813) to move into 29th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list during Friday's 33-point effort against the Kings. He also passed Hal Greer on the all-time scoring list earlier this season.
Next up for James, who now has 21,819 career points, is Clyde Drexler at 22,195.
The Heat have mixed and matched lineups all season, with Spoelstra giving extra time off to Wade in the wake of the guard's offseason shock-wave knee therapy. In Sacramento, it left Spoelstra experimenting with combinations.
"We don't make excuses," James said. "(But) it's tough. Three guys -- three out of our main seven guys -- were out. So we had guys who were playing roles and being in positions they haven't been in all year. But we pride ourselves in guys stepping up."
James spent Saturday's pregame needling teammate and former University of Miami forward James about the Hurricanes' bowl performance against Louisville.
Wade said he sat out Friday in Sacramento so he would be ready for Saturday's test against the Western Conference leaders.
"Taking the first one off, I wanted to play in this," said Wade, who still is working himself back from July shock-wave knee treatment, a process than can take six months for full recovery.
Wade said he would not change his approach with James out.
"You can't go out and say, "I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that,' " he said.
Saturday's game brought Spoelstra back to his childhood home.
"I'm used to it now, coming home," said Spoelstra, a former Portland prep standout, whose father is a former Trail Blazers executive. "I come home all the time in the summer."
But he said he now considers South Florida home.
"All my adult professional life, Miami is my home," he said.
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