James back to his best in headband
Cleveland's LeBron James rediscovered his headband and his peak form to lead the Cavaliers to a 106-91 victory over Chicago on Wednesday to square their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 1-1.
All four semi-final series across the two conferences stand at 1-1 after Houston beat the Los Angeles Clippers to square that match.
James donned the signature headband he ditched in March, and played like a man possessed on his way to 33 points. He powered to the basket, leaving Bulls defenders in his wake and keeping the Cavaliers - missing two starters - from falling into a 2-0 hole. He added eight rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, which led by 25 in the third quarter and withstood a third-quarter charge by the Bulls.
James said the choice to wear the headband was spur of the moment.
"It was in my locker and I decided to give it a go," he said. "It was time for it to make a comeback."
Jimmy Butler scored 18 and Derrick Rose had 14 points and 10 assists for the Bulls, who host Game 3 tonight. Pau Gasol added 11 points - 10 fewer than Game 1, when he destroyed the Cavs on uncontested jumpers.
Kyrie Irving scored 21 points, Iman Shumpert added 15 points, James Jones made five 3-pointers and Tristan Thompson added 12 rebounds for Cleveland. Thompson started at power forward in Love's spot, allowing James to move back to small forward. On the perimeter is where James is most dangerous and he made it clear from the outset that he wasn't going to stand around and wait for the game to come to him.
Houston's star players also rose to the occasion in a similar manner to James, producing a 115-109 win over the Clippers.
James Harden scored 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter while Dwight Howard had 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets, who bounced back from a loss in the opener. Game 3 is Friday in Los Angeles.
Trevor Ariza added 15 points and 13 rebounds for Houston, which made 42 of its 64 free throws.
Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 34 points, but had just eight after halftime as Houston locked down on him with All-Star point guard Chris Paul out with a hamstring injury.