LeBron James hopes to play Thursday wearing a protective mask

During this past Thursday's blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, forward LeBron James had his nose broken on a drive to the hoop that resulted in a score. James was left bloodied on the baseline and left the game after heading to the locker room to have his head and nose checked out. James missed the Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls due to the injury and an opportunity to grab a little in-season rest with the Heat not playing again until Thursday.

The Miami Heat's star practiced Tuesday for the first time since breaking his nose and hopes to play Thursday when the Heat host the New York Knicks. Assuming he plays, James will wear a protective mask in that game and for the next few weeks. From ESPN.com:

LeBron James participated in his first practice Tuesday since breaking his nose last week and hopes to return for the Miami Heat's game Thursday against the New York Knicks.

James was off limits during the Heat's full-contact portions of scrimmage work, so he did not wear a protective mask. But he said he's been fitted for one and will wear it in games the next few weeks.

"Every day is better," James said. "It's getting better, but I haven't been hit on it, either. It's too soon, but I think I should be fine enough to go on Thursday. It's only Tuesday, so we've got a lot of time."

The Heat managed to win fairly comfortably against the Bulls on Sunday without James, and they should be able to win against the Knicks on Thursday. They're currently chasing the Indiana Pacers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the NBA. They're 1.5 games behind the Pacers. 

James played with a protective mask back in the 2004-05 season after suffering a broken cheekbone thanks to Dikembe Mutomb's elbow.

CBS Sports Writer

Zach Harper likes basketball. Some would even say he loves it. He's also an enthusiast for everything Ricky Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nic Cage, and has seen the movie Gigli almost three times. He's been... Full Bio

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