LeBron returns, Heat cruise past New Jersey

LeBron returns, Heat cruise past New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J - The Associated Press
LeBron returns, Heat cruise past New Jersey

Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) breaks away from the New Jersey Nets defenders to drive for a dunk in the first quarter of their NBA game in Newark, New Jersey. REUTERS photo

LeBron James returned to the lineup and scored 22 of his 32 points in the first quarter, and the Miami Heat rolled to a 101-90 win over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night despite playing without Dwyane Wade.

Wade missed his third straight game with a bruised left foot, but James had the game under control by the time his All-Star teammate arrived at his seat on the bench.

James made his first seven shots, leaping high for dunks, lobs and blocked shots and showing no effects from the sprained left ankle that forced him to miss a game. The NBA’s leading scorer added nine assists and seven rebounds.

Chris Bosh added 16 points after a slow start for the Heat, who won their third straight and ran the NBA’s best record to 8-1. They hope to have Wade back when they move to the West for the final three games of a five-game trip.

Kris Humphries tied a career high with 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Nets, who shot just 33.7 percent in front of a sellout crowd of 18,711. Deron Williams had 10 points and 10 assists but was just 4 of 16 from the field.

At Auburn Hills, Mich., Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points and Mike Bibby added 16 to lead the New York Knicks to an easy 103-80 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey sat out with a groin injury, and the Pistons were also without forwards Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva, who had sore ankles.

At Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 25 points, Joe Johnson and Vladimir Radmanovic each added 17 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Chicago Bulls 109-94 to snap the Bulls’ six-game winning streak. John Lucas III had 14 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter for Chicago, which never led.

At San Antonio, The San Antonio Spurs built a big lead over the Denver Nuggets but were forced to hang on for a 121-117 win.

The win was the fifth in six games for the Spurs, who retained their lead in the Southwest division, while visitors Denver saw a four-game win streak come to an end.