OKLAHOMA CITY — LeBron James left Thursday night’s showdown against the Thunder midway through the fourth quarter after getting clobbered in the nose on his way to completing a highlight-reel play at the rim.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said James’ nose was swollen and bleeding, but confirmed that he passed concussion tests. Asked if James had X-rays on his nose, Spoelstra would only say that his superstar will be checked out Friday back in Miami. The Heat just finished a six-game road trip and don’t play again until Sunday against Chicago.
“He’s got a swollen nose right now, it’s bleeding. We’ll evaluate him when we get back to Miami,” Spoelstra said. “It’s sore, he took a shot; probably should have been at the free throw line after that, but he was aggressive and it was a heck of an attack right there. He got hit pretty good though in the nose, so we’ll just have to see when we get back.”
James put on a dominant performance and outplayed MVP frontrunner Kevin Durant in the Heat’s 103-81 thumping of OKC. James had a game-high 33 points in 33 minutes on 15-for-22 shooting — 14-for-17 from inside the arc. He scored Miami’s first 12 points of the game and was a menace from the start on the defensive end as the Heat led 34-17 after the first quarter.
With the fourth-quarter clock ticking down to the six-minute mark, James drove to the basket and appeared to get walloped in the nose as he blew through the lane. James soared across the front of the rim, left to right, against Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka looking for a right-handed slam, Ibaka kept him far enough away that James couldn’t stretch far enough for the dunk. High above the rim, James still managed to score before crashing to the floor.
Game action resumed at the Thunder’s end as James squirmed on the Heat’s baseline. It wasn’t until play stopped on an OKC travel call that Heat guard Ray Allen made it back to the other end and was first to reach James. As soon as he saw him, Allen waved for the trainers.
Heat players circled around James and everybody in Miami black held their breath.
“You just don’t know what it is,” Spoelstra said. “I’m like everybody else, you’re used to seeing him like Superman and get up and sprint back even after tough hits and tough falls, so you knew something was up.”
James was finally helped to his feet. He walked slowly while holding a towel over his nose and eyes. He was first seated on the Heat bench before escorted to the locker room to be further examined.