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- Heat small forward LeBron James makes his lone visit to Quicken Loans Arena this season — and will play his third game in the building since leaving the Cavaliers as a free agent in July 2010. Only four current Cleveland players were on the roster for James’ final game with the Cavaliers: Power forward Antawn Jamison, center Anderson Varejao, and shooting guards Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker. “There is no No. 6 James jersey hanging in our locker room, so we’ve all moved on,” Cleveland power forward Tristan Thompson said. “LeBron is entitled to do what he wants to do.”
- James, who did not speak with the media before the game, played his first seven NBA seasons with the Cavaliers after a spectacular four-year career at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. “The Chosen One” remains Cleveland’s all-time leader in points (15,251), steals (955), minutes (22,119), turnovers (1,802), field goals made (5,415), field goals attempted (11,403), free throws made (3,650), free throws attempted (4,917), and 3-pointers attempted (2,344). James has a 5-1 record against the Cavaliers, including 1-1 on the road.
- Rookie Thompson, the fourth overall choice in the 2011 NBA Draft, said he watched James’ return to Cleveland last Dec. 2 on television. “I was eating chips and queso at Chili’s at the time, but I could see the crowd was crazy,” Thompson said, laughing. “I saw the signs and heard their chants, which made me laugh, but I also told myself, ‘These fans are awesome. How great would it be to play for their team and have them behind me every night?”
- The Cavaliers will be without Gibson (left ankle sprain), Parker (lower back strain), and Varejao (right wrist fracture). Gibson was injured Wednesday when he landed on the foot of Indiana guard Paul George after launching a 3-pointer, but should return to action before the All-Star break. “Boobie said he feels a lot better, but he’s not going to play tonight,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “We’ll re-evaluate his situation tomorrow.”
- The Heat’s starting lineup includes James, point guard Mario Chalmers, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, power forward Chris Bosh, and center Joel Anthony. The Cavaliers’ first five is point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Alonzo Gee, small forward Omri Casspi, power forward Antawn Jamison, and center Semih Erden.
- Miami’s inactives are center Dexter Pittman (left shoulder strain) and shooting guard Terrel Harris.
– Brian Dulik