Cavaliers edge Heat as Celtics thump Knicks
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.