LeBron James dons mask to protect nose

LeBron James has tried out his new protective mask in practice and plans to use it Thursday when the Miami Heat play the New York Knicks.

Heat star hoping to return to lineup Thursday against Knicks

LeBron James wore this mask with Cleveland in 2005, and will wear protection again after breaking his nose last week against Oklahoma City. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

LeBron James has tried out his new protective mask in practice and plans to use it Thursday when the Miami Heat play the New York Knicks.

The game will be the first for James since he broke his nose last Thursday at Oklahoma City. He wore the mask for the first time Wednesday and used it during contact drills.

James says while the mask is hot and distracting and fogs up, it will reduce the pain if he gets hit in the face. He wore one a decade ago when he had a broken cheek.

The Heat have won five consecutive games and trail Eastern Conference leader Indiana by one game. If James nets his fifth consecutive 30-point game Thursday it would be the second-longest such streak in Heat history.

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