Mask doesn’t bother LeBron James in Heat’s victory
James donned a dark mask to protect his broken nose and was clearly unencumbered, hitting 13 of 19 shots and topping 30 points for the fifth consecutive game.
The Associated Press
MIAMI — For LeBron James, the mask was distinctive.
His effort, that was basically the same as usual.
So, too, was the outcome for the New York Knicks.
Playing with a dark carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose — a “menacing” look is how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra described it — James scored 31 points to help Miami beat the reeling Knicks 108-82 on Thursday night.
“I tried to put pressure on the defense, tried to make plays and I was happy to be back on the floor,” said James, who missed one game because of the nose, which got broken on Feb. 20 at Oklahoma City.
James made 13 of 19 shots and topped 30 points for his fifth consecutive outing. He said he plans to play with a mask for the next couple weeks, at least.
“As much as I don’t like it, I have to figure out how to make it work,” James said.
Dwyane Wade added 23 points, shooting 10 for 13 from the field. The Heat outscored New York 23-3 over the final 7:02 of the third and won their sixth straight.
The Heat shot 61 percent, while the Knicks shot 37 percent. No team shot better than 49 percent against Miami in 10 games during February, and none of the last four Heat opponents have shot better than 40 percent.
“Where we need it to be,” Wade said. “That’s how we win games.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, but none in the final 21:38 for New York, which fell to 2-10 in February.
• The NBA suspended Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins for one game and fined him $20,000 for punching an opposing player and verbally abusing an official in a game earlier this week.
The league suspended Cousins for punching Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter of the Kings’ 129-103 loss on Tuesday night in Sacramento. Cousins was fined for verbally abusing official Courtney Kirkland and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following an ejection with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter.
• The Kings and guard Jimmer Fredette have completed a buyout of his contract, clearing the way for the former BYU sensation to become a free agent.
Fredette was drafted 10th overall in 2011 after dazzling at BYU, where he led the nation in scoring at 28.5 points per game. But “Jimmermania” never took shape in Sacramento like the Kings had hoped.
Fredette is averaging 5.9 points and 11.3 minutes this season.
• The Milwaukee Bucks waived forward Caron Butler after agreeing to a contract buyout. The 33-year-old Butler, from Racine, Wis., made 13 starts and appeared in 34 games this season, averaging 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
• Trevor Ariza scored the go-ahead basket on a fast-break layup with 1:20 left in the third overtime and Washington outlasted host Toronto Raptors 134-129.