LeBron James scores 30 against Bulls despite bruised knee
BY MIKE BERARDINO For Sun-Times Media January 5, 2013 12:02AM
LeBron James played 41 minutes but wasn’t 100 percent after suffering a bruised knee Wednesday night. | Mike Ehrmann~Getty Images
Updated: February 6, 2013 6:13AM
MIAMI — LeBron James isn’t “superhuman” after all.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made that revelation before Friday’s game against the Bulls. Then James, playing through a bruised knee, was unable to prevent the defending NBA champions from suffering their third home loss.
A 30-point night from James wasn’t enough to stop the Bulls from winning 96-89 at AmericanAirlines Arena. It was the Heat’s sixth loss in their last eight regular-season meetings with their Eastern Conference rivals.
It also dropped the Heat to 15-3 on their home floor, where the Knicks and Warriors also beat them this year.
“He wasn’t 100 percent,” Spoelstra said of James, who played 41 minutes. “He made that 30 and 6 [rebounds] look as healthy as he could. He laid it all out there.”
James, who dinged his knee in the second half of Wednesday’s overtime victory against Dallas, missed Thursday’s practice and was a game-time decision.
“Once I was out there, it felt pretty good,” James said. “A couple times during the game I felt it. As I started to move a little bit more, it started to warm up. It will probably hurt tomorrow. I’m a little sore.”
The reigning league MVP had eight first-quarter points but also shot an air ball three-point attempt and was outrun by Kirk Hinrich to a loose ball.
James came alive in the second half, scoring 18 points and throwing down a pair of monster jams. During one stretch he scored nine consecutive points as the Heat cut a 10-point deficit to three.
However, James later missed a free throw that could have pulled the Heat within four with 1:30 left. James had just six rebounds as the Heat were outrebounded 48-28.
“It’s what’s been happening,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We have to fix it. We’re not going to get bigger overnight.”
James was playing in his 54th consecutive game, including last year’s playoffs but not counting the Olympics. He sat out three of the final four regular-season games last season due to what the Heat termed “maintenance” reasons.
The last meaningful game James missed was last Jan. 5 in Atlanta, when the Heat won in triple overtime.
James, who turned 28 on Dec. 30, entered sixth in the league in average minutes per game (38.4).
He extended his streak to 31 games with 20 or more points.