LeBron James shines as Cavaliers deal LA Clippers 7th straight loss
LeBron James shines as Cavaliers deal LA Clippers 7th straight loss
James added 14 rebounds and six assists to his 39 point tally while Kevin Love grabbed 25 points to power the Cavs to a 118-113 overtime victory at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The win helped cement Cleveland’s climb in the Eastern Conference standings, with the 2016 NBA champions now at 9-7 after four straight wins.
But the Cavs did it the hard way, repeatedly allowing the Clippers to open up sizeable leads before reeling them in.
It was the second time this week the Cavs had been forced to dig themselves out of a hole after recovering from a 23-point deficit against the Knicks in New York.
“That’s how the game is being played for us at this point in the season,” said James.
“It’s good to know that we’re building character and building resiliency and you can do that with a new group then that definitely can help us in the long run, so we can’t say that we wish we wouldn’t do that, but it is what it is.
“That’s the way the game is being played and we got to adjust to it.”
The Clippers were unable to ram home their advantage after leading 92-82 with 8:51 left in the fourth and 101-93 with just under five minutes on the clock.
The Clippers had also led by 81-66 with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter only to see the lead evaporate after James’ commanding performance.
Dwyane Wade was the only other Cleveland player to crack double digits, with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Los Angeles meanwhile spread their scoring more evenly, with Blake Griffin leading with 23 and DeAndre Jordan adding 20.
Four other Clippers players also reached double figures for the night, but it was not enough.
The Clippers now have lost seven straight, a dip in form that has seen them slump to 5-9 for the season.
“This is about the fourth game to me that we had a chance to win it at the end we just have not gotten it done,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
“It tells you that you’re closer than you think you are, no matter what your record is.”
Griffin meanwhile took no solace from another narrow defeat.
“Ultimately, being close doesn’t really help you win games (in the future),” Griffin said. “Being close is not what we want.”
Elsewhere Friday, the San Antonio Spurs produced another fightback to topple Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in an absorbing clash between the Western Conference rivals.
The Spurs trailed by 23 points in the second quarter but fought back to claim a 104-101 victory at the AT&T Center in Texas.
LaMarcus Aldridge was the talisman for San Antonio, scoring 26 points including a crucial basket in the final minute as the Spurs improved to 10-6. Oklahoma City fell to 7-8 after the loss.
The Thunder had trailed by six points in the final quarter but came back to 100-99 with 45 seconds left after a free throw by Paul George.
Aldridge scored to put San Antonio up by three at 102-99 only for Carmelo Anthony’s score to make it 102-101. Pau Gasol then hit two free throws to extend San Antonio’s lead before a wild effort by Westbrook on the buzzer missed the rim.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised the way his side had fought back from its early deficit.
“They pounded the rock, kept a great attitude, kept their minds on playing basic basketball and things turned their way,” Popovich said.
“The effort was great and we played a lot smarter in the second half, took care of the ball and showed a lot of courage. A lot of good performances from a lot of guys, but overall a great team win.”
Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2
- Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
- Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.
BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”
GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.