Heat 108, Knicks 82
LeBron James was back to the villain role he had shed in favor of two Miami Heat championships. Or at least he looked the part.
No, he wasn’t wearing the image-altering metaphorical black hat that he cast himself in during his first season with the Heat, just a black mask that made his look nearly as menacing as the actual damage he helped inflict on the visiting New York Knicks.
Playing for the first time since breaking his nose in last week’s road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, James helped the Heat close out a 9-1 February with 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting, the mask seemingly adding only greater clarity of the one-man show the Knicks have become.
Carmelo Anthony certainly did all he could to keep his Knicks afloat, scoring 24 of the Knicks’ 50 first-half points.
But eventually the heavy lifting proved too much for the New York forward, with Anthony closing with 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting, as well as one noteworthy blocked shot against James.
James, by contrast, received 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting with support from Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had his way with the Knicks’ wayward defenders throughout the night.
Hours after his nose was broken last week on a blow to the face from Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, James posted an Instagram photo of himself in a “Bane” mask. Thursday, he came out with a look resembling the Batman villain.
That’s not to say he didn’t have his concerns going in.
“None of them feel good, but you try to get a good fit,” he said. “More than fit, it’s peripheral vision that gets a little blurred.”
That wasn’t an issue early, as he made his first four shots, with the Heat pushing their lead to 16 by the midpoint of the second quarter.
He doesn’t expect many concerns going forward.
“It’s almost like when you start playing football,” he said. “Get that first hit, and then you can shake it off.”
The Knicks drew within two early in the third quarter, before a pulsating dunk by James helped the Heat push the lead into the 20s,
Pacers 101, Bucks 96
Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds to help the host Indiana Pacers rally to beat the Milwaukee Bucks. Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 18 points for NBA-leading Indiana.
The Bucks, an NBA-worst 11-46, tied it at 50 at the half and built a six-point lead in the third quarter.
Brandon Knight had 23 points for Milwaukee, Khris Middleton added 22, O.J. Mayo had 14, and Ramon Sessions 13.
Ersan Ilysova had 11 rebounds and nine points.
Wizards 134, Raptors 129
Trevor Ariza scored the go-ahead basket on a fast-break layup with 1:20 left in the third overtime and the Washington Wizards beat the host Toronto Raptors.
Marcin Gortat fouled out with 31 points and 12 rebounds, John Wall also had 31 points, and Ariza fouled out with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who won their fifth in a row and improved to 2-0 since losing forward Nene to a knee injury.
The Wizards are unbeaten since a Feb. 18 home loss to Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan scored 34 points in 58 minutes for Toronto.