JAMES’ ‘PLAY’ HELPS CAVS WIN FRANCHISE-TYING 13TH IN ROW
CLEVELAND >> The play is called “Chicago,” named after a game-winning shot LeBron James made in the playoffs to beat the Bulls.
It worked like a charm again in Cleveland.
James drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and finished with 32 points as the Cavaliers tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
James, who changed his sneakers three times, also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, helping the Cavs rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to remain unbeaten since Nov. 11. His decisive 3-pointer in the final minute over JaKarr Sampson came after James went to the bench during a timeout and told coach Tyronn Lue to run a play for him.
“Was going to run a different play and then ’Bron said, ‘I want Chicago.’ So I said, ‘OK,’ ” Lue said. “We got it to him and he made a big shot.”
After catching the inbounds pass, James took a dribble to his left and then stepped behind the line and knocked down his fifth 3-pointer.
“It felt good,” said James, who finished 12 of 18 from the floor. “I was able to get the laces where I wanted them and I got enough space, I created enough space with the step-back away from JaKarr and I was able to let it go. It felt good the whole time.”
Cleveland, which also won 13 straight in the 200809 and 2009-10 seasons, will try to break the team record Friday at Indiana.
This one wasn’t easy. The Kings gave the Cavs everything they had, but couldn’t contain James. That’s been the case for nearly every team that has faced the three-time champion, who is shooting with a confidence rarely seen in his career.
“He’s amazing,” said Kyle Korver, who opened the fourth quarter with three straight 3-pointers to give Cleveland the lead. “He’s just demanding the ball. He’s like, ‘Give me the ball, we’re about to win.’ And, I’ve been around some guys who’ve had amazing years. I’ve been playing with him and Derrick (Rose) when he was MVP. Allen Iverson when I was young.
“But he’s taken this to a whole new level. It’s amazing to have a better than a front-row seat, because I’m usually on the court next to him somewhere. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
While Cleveland’s win streak is impressive, James said he won’t consider anything special until the Cavs nearly double it.
“Twenty-five,” he said when asked where the streak needs to get to before becoming significant. “Because you’re getting close to 33 (Lakers 1971-72), that’s the all-time record. We ain’t nowhere near close. We got close in Miami. We got to 27 and lost to Chicago.”
Warriors 101, Hornets 87
CHARLOTTE, N.C. >> Kevin Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Golden State beat Charlotte without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
It was Durant’s first triple-double of the season and his second since joining the Warriors before last season.
Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.
Celtics 97, Mavericks 90
BOSTON >> Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and Jayson Tatum had 17 points and 10 rebounds, helping shorthanded Boston to its fourth straight victory.
Al Horford added 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Boston, which played without Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. Brown sat with an inflamed right eye, while Morris was out due to left knee soreness.
Spurs 117, Heat 105
SAN ANTONIO >> LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points, leading San Antonio to its sixth win in seven games with a victory over Miami.
The Spurs shot 52.9 percent from the field and had seven players score in double figures. Bryn Forbes had 17 points, and Rudy Gay finished with 16 in San Antonio’s eighth straight win over Miami.
Pelicans 123, Nuggets 114
NEW ORLEANS >> DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, and New Orleans won for the second time in three games without Anthony Davis, who missed his third straight game with a strained left adductor.
Knicks 99, Grizzlies 88
NEW YORK >> Courtney Lee scored 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 18 after a slow start in his return to the lineup, helping New York defeat Memphis.
Porzingis came back from his sprained right ankle and illness.
Magic 110, Hawks 106, OT
ORLANDO, FLA. >> Evan Fournier scored 27 points before departing with a right ankle injury, and Orlando rallied for the overtime win. Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas played four-on-four with other Cavalier players and coaches on Wednesday, a significant step in his recovery from a hip injury.