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LeBron James wears black mask to cover broken nose as Heat beat Knicks

Issac BaldizonHeat forward LeBron James donned a black mask against the Knicks. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)

LeBron James took the court wearing a black mask when the Heat beat the Knicks 108-82 in Miami on Thursday.

The four-time MVP suffered a broken nose during Miami's 103-81 road victory over Oklahoma City last week. The injury, which occurred when James took a blow to the face from Serge Ibaka while dunking, kept him on the sidelines when Miami beat Chicago 93-79 on Monday.

James showed no ill effects from the injury or the new mask as he finished with a game-high 31 points (on 13-for-19 shooting), four rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.

The Associated Press reported this week that James practiced in a mask, but that he found it to be uncomfortable. Over the last week, the Heat forward joked that he planned to wear a mask like Bane, the villain in Batman, or some other comic book character.

''I've been talking to Marvel Comics for the last couple of days, and DC Comics, to try to come up with one of the greatest masks of all time,'' James said. ''So we'll see what happens.''

James supplemented the mask, which had a reflective and textured design, with a black headband that matched Miami's black alternate uniforms. Still, this was more a matter of function rather than fashion, even as his face protection blended in smoothly with his beard.

Issac Baldizon Heat forward LeBron James donned a black mask against the Knicks. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)

''It lessens the impact,'' James explained, according to the AP. ''You can still feel it, because the nose is still tender. But it definitely lessens the pain.''

Back in 2005, James wore a clear mask after breaking a bone in his cheek during his second season with the Cavaliers.

(Streeter Lecka/ Getty Images Sport) LeBron James wore a clear mask back in 2005. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant also wore both black and clear masks during the 2011-12 season, after he suffered a broken nose while taking a blow from Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the 2012 All-Star Game. The Lakers' guard eventually autographed his clear mask and auctioned it off to raise more than $67,000 for charity.

 Stephen Dunn Getty Images Sport  Dan Lippitt Kobe Bryant wore two styles of masks during the 2011-12 season. (Stephen Dunn and Dan Lippitt/Getty Images)

The back-to-back champion Heat improved to 41-14 with the win. Dwyane Wade added 23 points (on 10-for-13 shooting) and two rebounds for Miami.

Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points (on 11-for-20 shooting) and added seven rebounds for the Knicks, who fell to 21-37 with the loss. Tyson Chandler added 19 points (on 6-for-9 shooting) and 16 rebounds for New York.

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