Cavaliers pass first test without Love
'King' James scores 24 points and makes late block to secure 91-89 win over Heat
LeBron James scored 24 points and came up with a crucial late block as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged out the Miami Heat 91-89 in a duel yesterday morning (Singapore time) for third place in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
"King" James prevented James Johnson from getting a shot off at the final buzzer as Cleveland held on for the win in their first game since Kevin Love was sidelined with a broken hand.
Love is expected to miss six to eight weeks - just more bad news after a tough January for the Cavs, who finished the month with a 6-8 record.
"I just wanted to keep the ball between me and the basket," James said of his late-game stop.
"That's just the rules I've always been taught and I was happy to be able to get that last stop. It's a good win for us."
Jae Crowder drained a three-pointer from a James assist with 1:21 left to play to give Cleveland a three-point lead.
Miami's Josh Richardson answered with a floater with a minute remaining before Cleveland's Isaiah Thomas made two free-throws to build the margin to 90-87 with 18.8 seconds to play.
Kelly Olynyk's lay-up trimmed the deficit to one point with 12.1 seconds left.
We needed a win like this, where we win a game on our defence.LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers beating Miami Heat, having entered the contest as the NBA’s worst-ranked defensive team
With seven left, Cleveland's Kyle Korver made the first of two free-throws and Johnson, with James defending him, was unable to release the potential game-tying jump shot before time expired.
"We needed a win like this, where we win a game on our defence," said James.
The Cavs entered the contest as the NBA's worst-ranked defensive team, but limited Miami to three-of-28 from three-point range.
They harried the Heat into 20 turnovers as they held an opponent to less than 90 points for the first time since November.
"It's a good step in the right direction," James said.
Meanwhile, Eastern Conference leaders Boston Celtics overcame the absence of Kyrie Irving to down the New York Knicks 103-73.
The Celtics, up by five midway through the third quarter, more than doubled that lead in less than two minutes, seizing an 11-point advantage and never letting the Knicks get within single digits again.
Terry Rozier, making his first career NBA start, produced his first career triple-double with 17 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds for Boston, adding two steals and two blocked shots.
In Portland, C.J. McCollum scored 50 points to lead the Trail Blazers to a 124-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
McCollum scored 28 points in the first quarter, a club record for a quarter and the most in a single period in this season's NBA.
McCollum joined Houston's James Harden as the only players to score 50 points in just three quarters this season.
- Indiana 105 Memphis 101, Orlando 127 LA Lakers 105, Atlanta 110 Charlotte 123, Brooklyn 116 Philadelphia 108, Boston 103 NY Knicks 73, Portland 124 Chicago 108, Phoenix 102 Dallas 88