NEW YORK -- As a precautionary measure, forward LeBron James said he planned to have his knee checked out by a team doctor once the Heat arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday night.
While going for an alley-oop dunk in the third quarter of the Heat’s 99-93 victory over the Knicks, James was hit in the air by a defender and fell awkwardly to the court.
James appeared to hyperextend his left leg and then grabbed his knee. It was a scary moment for James, the Heat and NBA.
“I was concerned,” James said. “I’m still concerned a little bit.”
After testing out the leg, James shook off the pain and then made a jump shot seconds later.
James finished the game with 29 points, going 12 of 23 from the field. He also had 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
“I was able to finish the game strong but things are always a little worse the next day,” James said. “We’ve got to fly to Minnesota, but I believe I’ll be in the lineup [Monday], though.”
James said he expects the knee to swell during the flight. Although James was little scared at the time of his injury, Chris Bosh said he was very concerned.
“He always does that stuff,” Bosh said. “He’s like Superman. We never expect him to get hurt. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything serious.”
The Knicks had 19 three-pointers in their first game against the Heat and 18 three-pointers in their second meeting. On Sunday, New York was 8 of 29 (27.6 percent ) from distance.
“We hit a lot of threes in the first two games,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. “We made some tonight, and we missed some. For us it comes down to our defense. If we make a couple of right rotations I feel like we could of won tonight.”
When Erik Spoelstra said the Heat was keeping a spot on the roster open for “flexibility,” he apparently just meant the team was making room for an old friend.
Juwan Howard was back on the bench on Sunday after being cut by the Heat in the preseason. The Heat signed Howard to a 10-day contract on Saturday, but he likely will be with the team for the rest of the season.
“He brings a championship pedigree,” Spoelstra said. “He fits into the fabric of our culture. To be honest, it felt a little strange not having him with us.”
Howard was inactive during Sunday’s game but was always the first person out of his seat during timeouts to encourage players as they walked off the court.
After the game, players joked with Howard and told him it was good to have him back.
“It’s good to have this fine-dressed human being back,” Mike Miller said as he and Howard left the visiting locker room and headed for the team’s bus.
Howard provided veteran leadership during the 2012 championship run. He hasn’t played this season.
“It makes sense, it feels right and we were able to do our due diligence in the first half of the season and keep our flexibility,” Spoelstra said.
“We feel we have the pieces that we need with Chris Andersen and also adding [ Jarvis] Varnado as a young player for the future. We had an open spot and it just makes a lot of sense for us.”