Although it garnered plenty of attention, the mask didn't prove to as distracting as he expected it to be entering the game. He said he anticipated being hesitant at the start as he adjusted to wearing a mask for the first time since he fractured his cheekbone in 2005. But there were no signs of tentativeness in James' play early. He made seven of his first nine shots and would finish with his fourth consecutive game with at least 30 points.
James expects to wear the mask for at least a couple more weeks but acknowledged it will be difficult to match the element of surprise his new getup brought to Thursday's game.
"I liked the look of it; it looked menacing," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "As long as he was aggressive, that was the big key."
The mask design was the second surprise gimmick James pulled on his teammates in as many days. After Wednesday's practice, James brought out WWE wrestling-style championship belts for Heat players as reminders that they are entering the stretch run of their challenge of pursuing a third straight NBA title.
Still, playing in the mask did present some issues for James. He also said he absorbed some contact to his face on drives to the basket without feeling much discomfort.
"A couple of times it was [a problem]," James said. "A couple of times, I kept seeing inside the mask sometimes before I could see a player. But for the most part, I was able to get into a good comfort zone and make some plays. And I just kind of tried to forget about it, maybe when it got hot a few times. I was happy with a couple of the timeouts when they came, and I was able to take it off."