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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
LeBron James faces Pacers

By Brian Windhorst
ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Recognizing the importance of a game against the rival Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat star LeBron James decided to play Wednesday night despite a sprained left ankle. The Pacers probably wish he hadn't.

James played 36 minutes and finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as Miami rallied for a 97-94 win.

James said the decision to play was made after consulting with the team's training staff about 45 minutes before the game. About an hour earlier, James posted a tweet where he expressed concern he may not be able to play.

"I'm nowhere near 100 percent but I'm good enough where I can be productive," James said. "It would be hard to miss this one. It was an incentive. It's been better and it's been worse."

James missed practice Tuesday and said he got treatment for nearly 48 hours to get him ready for the matchup of the teams with the two top records in the East.

Though he is somewhat limited, he said he didn't think he would have any restrictions.

"If I get a breakaway I'll be able to dunk," James said. "I love games like this and I would hate to sit this one out."

James rolled his ankle in the Heat's win over the Utah Jazz on Monday, didn't practice Tuesday and didn't participate in Miami's shootaround Wednesday morning.

The Pacers also had a gametime decision that came through. Coach Frank Vogel dealt with a bout of food poisoning and missed the team's shootaround Wednesday but was able to recover enough to coach.

"I was horizontal until about 3 p.m.," Vogel said. "Luckily I know this opponent pretty well."

The Heat's Michael Beasley, who has a hamstring injury, is expected to miss the game.

There had been speculation that Miami would activate center Greg Oden to face the Pacers' Roy Hibbert, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Oden -- who has not played this season -- will sit out again.