CAVA­LIERS ROLL OVER THUN­DER

Cavs’ James helps to gun down Ok­la­homa City

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

LEBRON James scored 17 of his 37 points in the third quar­ter as the new-look Cleve­land Cava­liers out­gunned the Thun­der 120-112 on Tues­day night. Cleve­land held strong in the third quar­ter then took com­mand in the fourth to post their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win since trad­ing for Ge­orge Hill, Rod­ney Hood, Jor­dan Clark­son and Larry Nance.

“We came in with a great game plan and we ex­e­cuted,” said James.

They are 4-0 in their last four con­tests and Tues­day’s per­for­mance was a huge im­prove­ment from their last game against the Thun­der.

J.R. Smith added 18 points and drained six three point­ers for the Cava­liers, who lost to the Thun­der 148-124 on Jan 20 with a very dif­fer­ent ros­ter.

Cleve­land have also scored at least 120 points in four con­sec­u­tive games for the first time in fran­chise his­tory.

James said the new play­ers are start­ing to fit in and he hopes the team doesn’t lose its mo­men­tum be­cause of the all-star break.

“We con­tinue to help each other out even when it doesn’t look like it is go­ing great for us. We fig­ure it out on the fly. The worst thing right now is us go­ing into this break,” he said of the mid-sea­son break, which be­gins on Fri­day.

The game marked the re­turn of Rus­sell West­brook and Carmelo An­thony to the Thun­der lineup. They both missed the last two games with an­kle in­juries.

James scored 14 points in the first five min­utes of the third quar­ter, in­clud­ing two three­p­oint­ers, to give Cleve­land a 78-68 lead.

The Thun­der re­sponded with an 8-0 run to get back into the game but the Cava­liers led 91-87 head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

The Cava­liers also led 62-57 at half­time as James had 16 points, four re­bounds and five as­sists in the first half.

Else­where, DeMar DeRozan poured in a team-high 27 points, while Kyle Lowry added 22 as the Toronto Rap­tors sur­vived a late rally from the Mi­ami Heat to win their sixth straight game.

The Rap­tors im­proved to 40-16 on the sea­son and in­creased their lead over the Bos­ton Celtics to one game for the top spot in the East­ern Con­fer­ence.

In Min­neapo­lis, James Har­den had 34 points, 12 as­sists and six re­bounds, and the Hous­ton Rock­ets beat the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves 126-108 for their ninth straight vic­tory.

REUTERS PIC

Cava­liers’ LeBron James (left) drives to the bas­ket as Thun­der’s Alex Abrines de­fends dur­ing their game at Ok­la­homa City on Tues­day.

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