MIAMI — LeBron James’ switch to a clear mask didn’t hinder his shooting eye, and he had 20 points Saturday to help the Miami Heat earn their seventh consecutive victory by beating the Orlando Magic 112-98.
At the NBA’s request, James dispensed with the black mask he wore Thursday when playing for the first time since he broke his nose. He missed only four shots, grabbed nine rebounds and had seven assists.
Though he said it “didn’t make sense” to him, LeBron James eschewed his black face mask for a clear one Saturday night, per the league’s request.
Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and Chris Bosh 20 for the Heat, who shot 58 percent. The newer mask seemed to bother James more than the black one did, and he frequently took it off. But it didn’t hinder his performance.
His streak of five consecutive games with more than 30 points came to an end, but he played only 31 minutes and took just 12 shots. After sitting out a week because of his broken nose, he avoided another injury when he went stumbling into the third row after making a fast-break layup and settled in an unoccupied seat.
The Heat improved to 10-1 since Feb. 1, and they’ve won their past four games by an average of 19 points. Tobias Harris led Orlando with 20 points, and Nikola Vucevic added 18.
HONORING IVERSON: Allen Iverson, emotional as he thanked former teammates and friends, had his No. 3 retired at halftime of Saturday’s game against Washington.
High above the Wells Fargo Center court, Iverson’s banner slipped between Maurice Cheeks’ No. 10 and Charles Barkley’s No. 34.
Iverson officially retired in October after last playing in 2010. He won four scoring titles for the Sixers and was the 2001 MVP when he led them to the NBA Finals. He never won a championship, the lone omission in a career that is destined for the Hall of Fame.
COLLINS JERSEYS: The NBA plans to donate proceeds from sales of Jason Collins jerseys to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
Collins became the league’s first openly gay player when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets last Sunday. His No. 98 jersey is the top seller on NBAStore.com.
He chose the number in tribute to Shepard, who was killed in a gay hate crime in 1998. Collins met Shepard's parents on Thursday when the Nets played in Denver.
The league says Friday the donations will total no less than $100,000, and it will also auction off Collins’ autographed, game-worn jerseys to benefit the same organizations.
Collins says he is thrilled to help the organizations that “work tirelessly to ensure LGBT youth get the resources and assistance they need to be successful in life.”