Basketball

LeBron shows the way

James' 31 points top the Cavs' 112-90 win over the Pistons, with Nance adding 22

Cleveland superstar LeBron James poured in 31 points and Larry Nance Jr added 22 in his first start for the Cavaliers yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a 112-90 National Basketball Association triumph over the Detroit Pistons.

Nance, who arrived in Cleveland in a Feb 8 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, started at centre in place of Tristan Thompson, who sprained an ankle against Denver on Sunday.

He and James combined to score Cleveland's first 20 points, and their combined 34 points in the first half helped stake the Cavs to a 54-49 half-time lead.

Cleveland kept the pressure on in the third quarter, outscoring Detroit 36-21. That included 13 points from James in less than five minutes to open the second half.

He departed after three quarters, having handed out seven assists and seven rebounds.

Nance pulled down 15 rebounds and helped limit Pistons centre Andre Drummond to 15 points.

"It just kind of felt easy," Nance said. "The guys were giving me all the opportunity in the world to make my shots, and I just happened to be making them."

Blake Griffin led Detroit with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but the Pistons dropped their third straight and have now lost nine of their last 11.

The guys were giving me all the opportunity in the world to make my shots... I just happened to be making them. Larry Nance Jr, who was making his first start for the Cleveland Cavaliers since joining them last month

They are ninth in the Eastern Conference, five games out of play-off position with the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks in seventh and eighth.

The Boston Celtics did not feel the absence of star point guard Kyrie Irving in a 105-89 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.

With Irving nursing a sore knee, Boston started strong and never looked back - scoring the first seven points en route to a 35-16 lead after one quarter.

Jaylen Brown scored 21 points for Boston, who led by as many as 37 on the way to a fifth win in six games.

The Celtics are 11/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Eastern Conference lead.

The Bulls, meanwhile, lost for the 14th time in 17 games.

In San Antonio, veteran point guard Tony Parker scored 23 points and made four assists as the Spurs edged the Memphis Grizzlies 100-98.

"Tony was his old self," guard Danny Green said of the French star, a 17-year veteran who came off the bench as he continues to battle back from a tendon injury suffered last May. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS: Indiana 92 Milwaukee 89, Miami 125 Phoenix 103, Chicago 89 Boston 105, San Antonio 100 Memphis 98, Utah 94 Orlando 80, LA Lakers 103 Portland 108

Basketball