James plays in clear mask after league request, drops 20 points.
There were nine games on the NBA schedule on Saturday night, with the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers all picking up victories.
Having switched to a clear mask after a request from the NBA, LeBron James had 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on Saturday to help the Heat beat the Orlando Magic and earn their seventh consecutive victory.
“He was a clear-mask guy tonight,” teammate Chris Bosh said. “He was just a regular dude, a regular citizen of Gotham.”
Dwyane Wade added 24 points while Bosh had 20, but despite his effort James insisted after the game that he wasn’t comfortable with the clear mask and preferred the black version that he had worn in the previous game.
Meanwhile, Miami have gone 10-1 since February 1 and have won their last four games by an average of 19 points, which all suggests that they are moving up a gear or two as we reach the business end of the season.
However, the Pacers were able to maintain their slender two-game advantage at the top of the Eastern Conference, as Paul George (25 points, eight rebounds) guided them to a win over the Boston Celtics.
Evan Turner had 17 points off the bench while Lance Stephenson added 16, with Jeff Green and Kris Humphries the star performers for the hosts on the night with 27 and 18 points respectively.
Elsewhere, the Washington Wizards crashed the Philadelphia 76ers’ retirement party for legend Allen Iverson, as Trevor Ariza dropped 40 points on them in a 19-point win.
The Sixers lost their 13th straight game in a season in which they have arguably given up on as Iverson’s No.3 jersey was retired and sent to the rafters to fit between Maurice Cheeks and Charles Barkley.
Ariza and John Wall both paid tribute to the NBA legend after the game, but their sixth straight win leaves them at 31-28 for the season and still with a chance of sneaking into third spot in the East.
Meanwhile, Andray Blatche had 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets inflicted further misery on the Milwaukee Bucks, while Robin Lopez posted up 18 points and nine rebounds to help the Portland Trail Blazers over the line against the Denver Nuggets.
However, the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to show signs of threatening for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, with Kevin Love going for 22 points and 10 rebounds to outshine DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento.
The T’wolves still trail Phoenix by five games for that eighth spot, but given that they have been playing good basketball for the most part, they will still be hopeful of making a late run.
There are no such problems for the Los Angeles Clippers though, as they sealed a win over the New Orleans Pelicans to ensure they remain firmly in the hunt for the third seed.
The San Antonio Spurs remain a game-and-a-half ahead in second, but the Clippers are undoubtedly putting pressure on Portland as Chris Paul led the charge on Saturday with 21 points and eight assists.
Orlando Magic 98-112 Miami Heat
Washington Wizards 122-103 Philadelphia 76ers
Detroit Pistons 110-118 Houston Rockets
Indiana Pacers 102-97 Boston Celtics
Brooklyn Nets 107-98 Milwaukee Bucks
Cleveland Cavaliers 96-110 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 96-102 Portland Trail Blazers
Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97 Sacramento Kings
New Orleans Pelicans 76-108 Los Angeles Clippers