LeBron James’ mask to protect his recent broken nose may have had a part to play in Miami Heat’s 108-82 win over the New York Knicks last night at the American Airlines Arena, according to head coach Erik Spoelstra.
James hit 31 points in the game, his fifth straight game scoring 30 or more points. Dwyane Wade pitched in 23 of his own, going 10-for-13 inside in 27 minutes.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks scorers with 29 points, but Tyson Chandler put in a health double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Speaking after of LeBron’s black carbon fibre mask (suitably matched with the throwback black Heat jersey), Spoelstra said: “I like the look of it. It looked kind of menacing. As long as he was aggressive, that was the big key.”
It needed triple overtime in Toronto for Washington Wizards to take a 134-129 victory over the Raptors, but thanks to back-to-back layups from Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster with a minute to go in the final OT period, it helped prevent Wizards suffering a regular season sweep against potential early playoff opponents.
It was top versus bottom in the Eastern Conference, but Milwaukee Bucks showed their fighting spirit against the Indiana Pacers in a game full of big swings.
Milwaukee had streaks of eight shots in a row made (second quarter), six in a row missed (also second quarter), nine in a row made (spanning the second and third quarter) and 10 in a row missed (to end the third quarter).
Roy Hibbert stepped in to the limelight with 24 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 10-for-16, as the Pacers eventually claimed a 101-96 win.
In the final game of the night, Brooklyn Nets were in total control from the get-go against Denver Nuggets, running out 112-89 winners. The Nuggets claimed a season low for an NBA side scoring just eight points in the first quarter.
The Nets took a game high lead of 39 points close to the end of the third quarter, before their leading scorer Paul Pierce, with 18 points, sat for the final period. Brooklyn’s reserves outscored Denver’s in the first three quarters 40-4, but closed that down to 53-30 by the end of play.
One man who scored his first points of the season was Jason Collins, and after the game he met Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard who was killed in 1998 in an anti-gay attack, and whom Collins pays tribute to in wearing the No.98. He presented Mr. and Mrs. Shepard with a signed Nets jersey.