James had 28 points while becoming the seventh member of the 30,000-point club, yet he couldn’t keep the Cavaliers from dropping their 10th in 13 games.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray — friend and mentee of James — had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in his second start since replacing a healthy Tony Parker. Murray soared for a tip follow and then rose to disrupt James’ driving layup, which led to a 3-pointer by Danny Green that gave the Spurs a 105-94 lead with 4:20 remaining.
Murray’s effort helped San Antonio push past Cleveland in a battle between teams entangled in turmoil.
The Spurs denied reports that injured superstar Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with how the team is handling his right quadriceps tendinopathy and wants to be traded.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, acknowledged reports that they held a team meeting to address Kevin Love’s early exit due to illness from a blowout loss at Oklahoma City and his subsequent absence from the following day’s practice.
Love said the Cavs have a history of thriving on chaos, and they seemed to put the dysfunction aside early as James got the seven points he needed to reach his milestone.
After missing his first two midrange jumpers and a pair of free throws, James made two driving layups and a 20-footer, and then rose above Danny Green for a 19-foot jumper with one second remaining in the first quarter to reach the mark. The shot put Cleveland up 29-25.
At 33 years and 24 days, James is the youngest player to get 30,000. Bryant was 34 years and 104 days when he got there.