Basketball

James leads Cavaliers to 11th straight win

With 2min 10sec left, the scoreboard read Cleveland Cavaliers 109 Memphis Grizzlies 109.

Up stepped LeBron James again. He surged to the post for a lay-up, then slashed to the rim for another lay-up and a free-throw.

Grizzlies' Dillon Brooks narrowed the deficit with two free-throws but, with five seconds left, James drained a jump shot just inside the three-point line to seal a 116-111 win yesterday morning (Singapore time).

In the process, the Cavaliers stretched their NBA winning streak to 11 games - just two wins shy of matching their franchise record of 13 consecutive victories, set in 2008-09 and matched the following season.

James, who leads the league in fourth-quarter points, scored 15 of his 34 points against the Grizzlies in the final period, including Cleveland's last 13 points.

He also added 12 assists, drawing chants of "M-V-P" from Cleveland fans.

Kevin Love added 20 points along with 11 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 17 points and Dwyane Wade added 16 points and four assists off the bench for Cleveland.

This was Memphis' 11th straight defeat as Cleveland erased a 12-point first-quarter deficit and then repelled their fourth-quarter rally bid.

BOSTON REACH 20 WINS

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue praised the team effort in a "tricky game".

"We just kept our composure, kept playing," Lue said.

"And 'Bron took us home down the stretch."

Cleveland, who had long shaken off their rocky start to the season, solidified their hold on second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics - who became the first team this season to reach 20 wins with a 116-111 home victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Celtics withstood a 38-point performance from Suns star Devin Booker - who had dropped 70 points on the Celtics in a game at the TD Garden last season.

Kyrie Irving was the late-game hero for the Celtics, scoring five of his 19 points in the final two minutes.

The Suns had trimmed a late eight-point deficit to two when Irving drained a three-pointer with 1:53 left to help the Celtics hang on.

Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris scored 17 points each, Jayson Tatum added 15 and Al Horford scored 14 points with 11 assists and five rebounds for the Celtics.

"We put ourselves in a bad spot after that fourth-quarter run," Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

"I thought we were doing a great job at the end of the third quarter, start of the fourth, pushing that lead out, but that's how quickly it goes.

"Kyrie had to make some big plays. Jayson had to make some big plays. Marcus had to make free-throws. I mean, we had a lot of things that we had to do to close that out.

"But Kyrie's ability to make those shots with very little space is pretty impressive."

Elsewhere, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle became the 18th coach in NBA history with 700 wins, as the Mavericks cruised past the Los Angeles Clippers 108-82. - AFP


OTHER RESULTS

Dallas 108 LA Clippers 82, Brooklyn 102 Atlanta 114, Philadelphia 108 Detroit 103, Milwaukee 109 Sacramento 104, Denver 115 LA Lakers 100, Portland 115 New Orleans 123

Basketball