Cavaliers edge Heat as Celtics thump Knicks

AFP
The Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Miami Heat 91-89 on Wednesday in a duel for third place in the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference.
AFP
Reuters

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives to the basket beside Miami Heat forward James Johnson in the second quarter of their NBA match at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday. The Cavs won 91-89.

LEBRON James scored 24 points and came up with a crucial late block as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Miami Heat 91-89 on Wednesday in a duel for third place in the National Basketball Association’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 its first game since Kevin Love was sidelined with a broken hand.

Love is expected to miss six to eight weeks — just more bad news in a tough January for the Cavs, who finished the month with a 6-8 record.

Jae Crowder drained a 3-pointer from a James assist with 1:21 left to play to give Cleveland a 3-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 layup trimmed the deficit to one point with 12.1 seconds remaining. With 7 seconds 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 defense,” said James.

The Cavs entered the duel as the NBA’s worst-ranked defensive team but limited Miami to 3-of-28 from 3-point range.

It was a blowout in Boston, where the Eastern Conference-leading 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 lead 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.

Also, it was: Trail Blazers 124, Bulls 108; Pacers 105, Grizzlies 101; Magic 127, Lakers 105; Hornets 123, Hawks 110; Nets 116, 76ers 108; Suns 102, Mavericks 88.

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