Heat ruin LBJ’s Miami return
MIAMI—The Miami Heat weren’t in a giving mood Thursday as they spoiled the Christmas Day return of LeBron James to southern Florida.
James tallied a team high 30 points and eight assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers lost 101-91 to his former team in one of five NBA contests on the Christmas holiday.
It was James’s first game in South Beach since spurning the Heat to rejoin his hometown Cavaliers in the offseason.
“A lot of emotions come back and you know, I spent four years here with those guys,” he said. “We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to do the best we could.”
James, who got a big pre-game ovation from the crowd of 19,800, won two NBA titles in four seasons with his former team, which has fallen to a sub .500 club since he left.
The Heat victory also came just 48 hours after a disappointing 91-87 loss to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.
“It could have been easy for us to be down on ourselves after that loss but we weren’t,” said Wade, who hugged and chatted with James after the final buzzer.
There were no hard feelings between James and the Heat fans either, as he received plenty of applause and just a smattering of boos during the pre-game introductions.
The Heat also played a video tribute to James during one of the timeouts.
“What me and my teammates created while we were here is going to last forever,” said James, who led the Heat to four championship appearances. “You can never take that out of the (history) books.
“I gave everything and more to the city while I was here. I never disrespected the city, the franchise, or any of my teammates.”
But James said he had yet to speak with Heat president Pat Riley.
“If the opportunity presents itself I don’t mind, but I don’t know what his mindset is,” he added.
Wade said he was pleased to see the cheers outnumber the boos for James.
“That is the way it should be. There is no reason to say anything negative about LeBron James,” said Wade, who scored 24 of his 31 points in the first half.
In San Antonio, Russell Westbrook scored 34 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs, 114-106, in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.
In Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, Chris Paul added 22 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers had a 100-86 victory over the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors.
Blake Griffin missed his first eight shots and was 5 for 16 overall with 18 points and 15 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 12 boards.
Elsewhere, the Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks, 102-91, in a spiteful clash in New York which saw Quincy Acy ejected after a forearm shove on John Wall with 5:31 to play sparked an altercation.
Also, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds against his former team and the Chicago Bulls beat Los Angeles 113-93 with Lakers star Kobe Bryant resting his sore body. AFP, AP