LeBron James scored a game-high 33 points despite having his nose bloodied and being knocked to the floor in the fourth quarter of Miami’s 103-81 victory on Thursday at Oklahoma City.
The two-time defending champions Heat avenged a 112-95 loss to the Thunder last month in Miami, trailing only 66 seconds in the entire game, but still having cause for worry when James went down.
James, who made 15-of-22 shots from the floor in 33 minutes, dribbled up the middle past a defensive double team midway into the fourth quarter when he was struck by Spanish big man Serge Ibaka of the Thunder.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James kept going, slamming the ball into the hoop before sprawling on the floor beneath the basket.
Laying dazed for most of the next minute, blood was visible on the court and when James rolled over it became clear his nose had been bloodied. He was helped up and went to the locker room holding a towel on his nose with the Heat ahead 90-74.
James passed a concussion test and a doctor examined his nose, and found it was not broken.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 24 points, with Wade adding 10 assists and Bosh contributing eight rebounds.
James added seven rebounds and four steals, sparking Miami to an early lead with solid offensive and defensive efforts.
The Heat improved to 39-14, 1.5 games behind Indiana for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and 2.5 games behind Oklahoma City (43-13) for the best record in the NBA.
Durant led the Thunder with 28 points, while Russell Westbrook, back in the Oklahoma City lineup after missing 27 games following knee surgery, added 16 points and sent a message early with two steals in the opening minute.
Miami’s accuracy rate of 76.2 percent in first-quarter shooting helped push the Heat to a 34-17 lead, aided by seven Thunder turnovers.
James sparked a 10-0 Heat run early in the third period and the lead grew to 22 points. Durant scored nine points during a 12-1 Thunder run to pull the hosts within 76-65, but Miami led comfortably to the finish.
The Heat finished a road trip 5-1 with their fourth win in a row, snapping the Thunder’s three-game win streak.
In other play, it was:
‧ Nuggets 101, Bucks 90
‧ Warriors 102, Rockets 99, OT