LeBron James hurts nose, leads Miami Heat in rout of Thunder
02/21/2014 12:01 AM
03/14/2014 2:43 PM
The Heat saw its future flash before its eyes late in Thursday's 103-81 win over the host Thunder.
Star forward LeBron James lay in a heap along the baseline, blood dripping from his face as play continued on the opposite side of the floor.
James may have broken his nose as he scored the final of his game-high 33 points. James, hit by Serge Ibaka twice during his rise to the rim, was hurt with just under six minutes left in Miami's surprisingly easy win over the Western Conference leaders.
"You're used to seeing him be Superman, get up and sprint back after tough hits and tough falls,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said of his initial thoughts when seeing James on the ground.
"He got hit pretty hard.''
After a few minutes of laying face down just off the court, James held a towel to his face and walked off the court with teammate Dwyane Wade's arm around his waist.
James' exact injury wasn't immediately known with Spoelstra saying he'll be evaluated when the team returns to Miami most likely early Friday morning.
"He has a swollen nose, it's bleeding,'' Spoelstra said. "It's sore. He took a shot and probably should have been at the free throw line. He was aggressive.''
James did not speak to the media following the game but was sitting in front of his locker stall, his face shrouded in white towels.
"I saw him take a fall and then you see blood,'' Wade said. "You just hope he's OK and not overly serious. It was an unfortunate injury. But he got up and was talking to us, communicating with us. So that's good.''
A potential injury to James was one of the few down moments for the Heat on Thursday as it opened to a big lead, watched the Thunder close to within five only to open things up again.
Miami's victory was a nice reply after Oklahoma City rallied from an 18-point deficit and beat the Heat by 17 in Miami on Jan. 29.
"They smacked us pretty good. They beat us and it's not very often that we get dominated like they did us,'' said Chris Bosh, who tied Wade with 24 points behind James to lead Miami. "That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.''
The Heat has won 10 of 12 now as it heads home to face Chicago on Sunday. Miami went 5-1 on a road trip that started Feb. 5 against the host Clippers.
On Thursday, the Heat led by 19, but the Thunder whittled its deficit to five early in the second half.
Yet a big third quarter -- fueled by James and Wade -- got the Heat back in control. James scored 10 of his 33 in the third as Miami outscored the Thunder 22-18 in the period. Wade had four of his 24 in the third.
Kevin Durant, considered the front-runner for this year's MVP award, scored a team-high 28.
"It's not decided,'' Wade said, "and that wasn't a message. That was just LeBron James being LeBron James. The MVP race is a long way from being over.''
Miami saw the Thunder get the first basket of the second half as OKC made it a five-point game. But the Heat then blew the game open, embarking on a 16-2 run.
The third resembled big portions of the opening half that the Heat dominated.
James, who had a game-high 21 at halftime, was a one-man band early.
Miami's first 12 points all came via James with Wade getting Miami's first non-LeBron points when he broke out off a turnover and dunked to give Miami a six-point lead with 7:29 left.
James continued his torrid pace, pushing the Heat to a 34-17 lead at the close of the first by scoring 16.
Norris Cole gave Miami a 17-point lead with 8:36 left in the half with a 3-pointer but the Thunder soon mounted a comeback.
With 1:05 left before the break, Russell Westbrook -- playing in his first game since Christmas Day in New York --- scored OKC's final five points to make it a seven-point game.
Ibaka opened the second half with a lay-up to pull the Thunder within five, yet James hit a fade-away jumper and Chalmers hit a long jumper to get Miami going. Things wouldn't be close again for a while.
With 5:05 left, James sank his first 3-pointer of the night to hit the 30-point mark as Miami had its biggest lead at 22. Miami was up 11 going into the fourth.
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