James fires Cavs to 11th straight victory

AFP
Memphis endured its 11th straight defeat as Cleveland erased a 12-point first-quarter deficit and then repelled the Grizzlies' fourth-quarter rally bid.
AFP
Reuters

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade (right) strips the ball from Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans during the first half of their NBA match at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 2, 2017. The Cavaliers won 116-111.

The Cleveland Cavaliers stretched their NBA winning streak to 11 games on Saturday as LeBron James poured it on in the fourth quarter to keep the depleted but desperate Memphis Grizzlies at bay.

James, who leads the league in fourth-quarter points, scored 15 of his 34 points in the final period as the Cavs held on for a 116-111 victory in Cleveland.

He scored Cleveland's last 13 points — and delivered the final dagger with a jump shot from just inside the 3-point line with five seconds remaining.

Cleveland, its rocky start to the season a more distant memory with every win, solidified its 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.

Memphis endured its 11th straight defeat as Cleveland erased a 12-point first-quarter deficit and then repelled the Grizzlies' fourth-quarter rally bid.

James added 12 assists in 30 minutes on the floor, drawing chants of "M-V-P" from Cleveland fans.

Kevin Love added 20 points along with 11 rebounds. JR Smith scored 17 points and Dwyane Wade added 16 points and 4 assists off the bench for Cleveland.

Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks drained a 3-pointer that tied the score at 109-109 with 2:10 to play.

James then drove for a layup and the Grizzlies' Tyreke Evans missed a 3-pointer.

Brooks made two free throws before James drained his jump shot to seal it.

Evans had 31 points and 12 assists for Memphis. Marc Gasol scored 27 and passed 10,000 career points.

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."

In Boston, 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 5 of his 19 points in the final two minutes.

The Suns had trimmed a late 8-point deficit to two when Irving drained a 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining 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 5 rebounds for the Celtics.

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

Instead, Carlisle was more concerned with a dominant performance by his team, who notched just their sixth win of a season against 17 defeats.

The Mavericks jumped to an 8-0 lead that they never surrendered. They connected on 45.7 percent of their 3-point shots and out-rebounded Los Angeles 54-38.

JJ Barea scored 21 points and handed out 10 assists.

And the Mavericks' talismanic German big man Dirk Nowitzki was a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range.

Elsewhere, it was: 76ers 108, Pistons 103; Pelicans 123, Trail Blazers 116; Nuggets 115, Lakers 100; Hawks 114, Nets 102; and Bucks 109, Kings 104.


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