LeBron James wanted it. You could tell he wanted it.

He sighed when Dwyane Wade snatched a rebound in front of him with 3:50 to play. He smiled when Ray Allen did the same with 2:54 left.

"It's not meant for it to happen this year," the Miami Heat forward said with a sigh and a smile after Monday night's 102-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena, another triple-double bid shortcircuited. "My own guys got me.

"But it's all good."

Going into the fourth quarter two rebounds shy of his first triple-double of the season, James had to settle for a closing line of 24 points, 11 assists and those eight rebounds.

"I don't know what the deal is for L.J.," coach Erik Spoelstra said with a smile. "He's just working on the all-time record for near-misses of triple-doubles."

The game within the game was whether the Heat would pull ahead too far too soon, before James could get off the bench for the final two rebounds to complete his first triple-double since last March.

After coming tantalizingly close so many times in the interim, James entered for the first time in the fourth quarter with 6:58 to play, cast at power forward.

The rebounds never came, through no fault of his teammates.

"The way the game was going," Spoelstra said, "those rebounds were so closely contested, you couldn't leave it to chance. Those guys, they weren't trying to steal the rebounds."