LeBron scores 31 in return...Pacers blow lead, claw back to beat Bucks
The Miami forward hit the 30-point plateau for the fifth consecutive game, pouring in 31 on 13 of 19 shooting as the Heat ripped the Knicks 108-82 in Miami. James was back on the court after missing Sunday's game due to his busted beak.
Dwyane Wade also had the hot hand, hitting 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts to finish with 23 points.
The Heat shot 61 percent overall and turned it into a rout by outscoring the Knicks 23-3 over the last seven minutes of the third quarter. Miami also shut out Carmelo Anthony after he torched them for 29 points over the first 26 1/2 minutes.
The Heat's sixth straight win keeps them two games behind Indiana for the NBA's Eastern Conference lead.
The Pacers blew a 17-point lead in the first half before improving to an NBA-best 28-3 at home.
Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Pacers rallied for a 101-96 win over lowly Milwaukee. Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 18 points for the Pacers, who led by 12 late in the first half before the Bucks went on a 22-4 run to go up by six early in the third quarter.
Indiana still owns the NBA's best record after improving to 44-13.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
- Trevor Ariza hit a go-ahead layup with 1:20 left in the third overtime to help Washington pick up its fifth straight win, 134-129 against Toronto. Marcin Gortat fouled out with 31 points and 12 rebounds, John Wall also had 31 points, and Ariza fouled out with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.
- Paul Pierce finished with 18 points and the Brooklyn Nets led 29-8 by the end of the first quarter before settling for a 112-89 laugher at Denver. Ten Nets scored at least eight points as the team pulled within four games of the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.
NBA suspends Cousins
NEW YORK (AP) - The Sacramento Kings will be without their top player for tomorrow night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Center DeMarcus Cousins has been handed a one-game suspension and a $20,000 fine by the NBA for his conduct during Tuesday's loss to Houston. Cousins punched Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach about 2 1/2 minutes into the game and was fined for verbally abusing official Courtney Kirkland and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his third-quarter ejection.
Butler, Fredette get buyout
UNDATED (AP) - The Milwaukee Bucks waived forward Caron Butler after agreeing to a contract buyout.
The 33-year-old Butler made 13 starts and appeared in 34 games this season, averaging 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
Also agreeing to a buyout was Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, clearing the way for the former BYU sensation to become a free agent.
Fredette is averaging 5.9 points while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 49.3 percent from 3-point range.
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