NBA: LeBron James leads Heat victory over Thunder despite bloodied nose

OKLAHOMA CITY (AFP) - LeBron James scored a game-high 33 points despite having his nose bloodied and being knocked to the floor in the fourth quarter of the Miami Heat's 103-81 victory on Thursday against high-flying Oklahoma City Thunder.

The two-time defending National Basketball Association (NBA) champions avenged a 112-95 loss to the Thunder last month in Miami, trailing for only 66 seconds of the entire game.

James, who made 15-of-22 shots from the floor in 33 minutes, was dribbling up the middle midway into the fourth quarter when he was struck by Thunder centre Serge Ibaka.

The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player kept going, slamming the ball into the hoop before sprawling on the floor beneath the basket. Laying dazed for most of the next minute, it became clear his nose had been bloodied when he rolled over to get up.

James passed a concussion test and a doctor examined his nose and found it was not broken. The doctor said that X-rays were not needed but James will likely be examined again on Friday when the Heat return to Miami.

Miami's Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 24 points, Wade adding 10 assists and Bosh contributing eight rebounds. James added seven rebounds and four steals, sparking Miami to an early lead with solid offensive and defensive efforts.

"It was flawless," Wade said. "LeBron was aggressive. Defensively he was able to be in the passing lanes. He played a great game and that's what we needed from our leader."

The Heat improved to 39-14, second behind the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the Eastern Conference and also behind Oklahoma City (43-13) for NBA's best record.

Durant led the Thunder with 28 points while Russell Westbrook, back in the Oklahoma City line-up after missing 27 games following knee surgery, added 16 points and had two steals in the opening minute.

Miami's accuracy rate of 76.2 per cent in first-quarter shooting helped push the Heat to a 34-17 lead, aided by seven Thunder turnovers.

"I was too careless with the basketball," Durant said. "I have to be better."

The Heat finished a road trip 5-1 with a fourth win in a row, snapping the Thunder's three-game win streak.