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Masked Marvel: LeBron expected to return vs. Knicks
(SportsNetwork.com) - Dwyane Wade remembers the last time LeBron James wore a protective mask. He said the four-time NBA MVP was less muscular then and had a little more hair.
Wade is expected to team up with James Thursday versus Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Wade talked about James, who suffered a broken nose last week in Oklahoma City, after Wednesday's practice in which the superstar donned a mask during contact and shooting drills.
James wore a mask for the first time since his early days in Cleveland.
"Looked like LeBron with a mask. Looked like every other player that wears a mask. Looks weird," Wade said. "I don't know how they breathe in it. I guess it's going to get foggy a lot. He looks like LeBron that wore a mask the first time just about 30 pounds heavier, little bit more muscular, little less hair. Things like that."
James sustained a blow from Thunder forward Serge Ibaka during a drive to the hoop in a 103-81 win to close out a six-game road trip (5-1). He was bloodied by the contact and later passed concussion tests. He was in a suit for Sunday's 93-79 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls and was optimistic about playing against Anthony and the Knicks.
"Hopefully I can give it a shot tomorrow night," James said Wednesday.
James said his aggressive style of play won't change because of the mask. Wade believes his teammate will be fine.
"It's a physical sport, so guys are going to get hit whenever they attack the basket," Wade said. "I think the mask kind of guards you a bit. I think he'll be fine."
Wade and Chris Bosh picked up the scoring slack in James' absence versus the Bulls and combined for 51 points and 20 rebounds. Wade also handed out seven assists for the two-time defending champion Heat, winners in five straight and eight of their last nine games.
Miami, which is two games behind Indiana for the East's top spot, has a 21-4 home record and will also host Orlando and Charlotte on this current stay. The Heat are hosting a New York team that still has high expectations for the season despite a 21-36 record.
"With the talent they have you can be like 'wow, you know, look at their record.' I think it's shocking for them," James said of the Knicks. "For me I really don't try to pay too much attention to other team's records. I know they've been struggling but I know their record won't be the team that we play tomorrow night."
Wade feels the same way, especially about Anthony, who is second in the NBA with 28.2 points per game and has posted an average of 41.3 ppg in his last four contests. Anthony has three 40-point efforts in that span.
"They're going to keep competing," Wade said of the Knicks. "We have one of the best players in the NBA coming in that is scoring 40s like it's nothing and we have to be prepared to play them. They play us very well every time we play them.
The Knicks and Heat have split two matchups this season with both games at Madison Square Garden, but New York has won four of the past six in this series. The Knicks have won their last two visits to South Beach. James is third in the NBA with 26.9 ppg and has scored 30 or more in his last four (31.0 ppg). He is posting 31.0 ppg against New York this season, while Anthony is averaging 27.5 ppg in the rivalry.
New York was in the news Wednesday for all the wrong reasons, as point guard Raymond Felton was arrested on gun charges. According to multiple media reports, Felton was charged with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a firearm, both felonies, and a third misdemeanor gun charge.
The New York Daily News said Felton turned himself in to a Manhattan precinct just before 1 a.m. ET, hours after the Knicks lost to the Dallas Mavericks at MSG. He was scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday morning. According to the New York Post, Felton pointed a gun at a woman.
Felton had a statement prepared on the matter.
"This is not a distraction to this team," Felton said after practice. "You know, I'm focusing on finishing out this season, finishing out these games with my teammates and going down to Miami and focusing on this next game at task, versus the defending champs."
Felton did not address the charges and is focused on trying to get the Knicks back in the playoff hunt. The Knicks are five games out of a playoff spot and have lost three straight and nine of their last 11 games, including Monday's tough 110-108 loss to the Mavericks.
Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki hit a tightly contested jump shot over Anthony at the buzzer. Nowitzki's jumper bounced off the backboard and then the front rim before falling through as time expired.
"Once it went up, I figured it had a chance. I wasn't quite sure it was going and then it actually went in. I didn't even feel like celebrating, it was so ugly," Nowitzki said. "But we'll take the win and move on."
Anthony, who tied the game at 108-108 on a deep shot with 50.3 seconds to go, poured in 44 points on 14-of-29 shooting and 7-of-12 3-pointers. J.R. Smith scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler added 12 and 12 rebounds in defeat.
The Knicks committed 21 turnovers for 25 Dallas points.
New York has lost two straight and seven of its last eight road games, and owns a 9-17 ledger away from the Garden this season.
02/27 10:13:31 ET