James forced to leave game with nose injury, set for further tests.
The Miami Heat avenged their defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder from last month with a comprehensive win on the road with LeBron James leading the way.
The 29-year-old was unable to finish the game after taking a hard hit from Serge Ibaka in the fourth quarter, but he ended with 33 points as Miami’s ‘Big Three’ dominated to help the team cruise to victory.
“I’m like everybody else, you’re used to seeing him like Superman, get up and sprint back even after tough hits and tough falls,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So we knew something was up.”
Dwyane Wade added 24 points and 10 assists while Chris Bosh had 24 points too, as the Heat extend their winning streak to four games and are now beginning to put pressure on the Indiana Pacers at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Wade insisted after the game that Miami are starting to find their chemistry and resolve as they begin to click into gear for the second half of the season, and it will undoubtedly have been a significant boost in confidence for them to claim the win away in OKC.
Kevin Durant responded with 28 points while Russell Westbrook had 16 points in 24 minutes after making his comeback from a knee injury which has forced him to miss the last 27 games.
However, it wasn’t enough for the hosts who lost their first game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena since January 5.
Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors secured an overtime win over the Houston Rockets with Stephen Curry converting a tying lay-up with 3.2 seconds left in regulation.
The All-Star point guard finished with 25 points while Jermaine O’Neal made a big-time block in overtime as the Warriors ended the Rockets’ eight-game winning streak.
“That’s one of our biggest wins of the year,” said O’Neal, who grabbed 10 rebounds and defended Dwight Howard as well as anybody has this season.
Coach Mark Jackson praised his players for their effort and ability to make big plays at critical times, as they picked up a significant win despite James Harden scoring 39 points before suffering a hyperextended right elbow.
David Lee had 28 points and 14 rebounds while Howard responded with 21 rebounds of his own, but it wasn’t enough for the visitors to silence the ORACLE arena.
In the other game of the night, the Denver Nuggets were able to secure a win on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Denver Nuggets 101-90 Milwaukee Bucks
Miami Heat 103-81 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 99-102 Golden State Warriors