LOS ANGELES: LeBron James delivered his third triple-double of the season as the Cleveland Cavaliers are off to one of the best starts in franchise history with a 112-108 win over Philadelphia on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
James and Kevin Love powered the offense through three quarters before Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth for the defending champion Cavaliers who improved to 13-2 on the season.
Irving scored 20 of his 39 points in the final quarter, Love had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Cleveland rallied from an early 14-point deficit to win at 76ers’ Wells Fargo Center.
“When you have great players, it can come from any of us at any given moment,” said Irving. “When one of us gets it going, we always continue to go to that person. It can be anybody’s night. We’re always trusting each other.
“That fourth quarter was just for me to be aggressive.”
James added 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for another triple-double and Tristan Thompson tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers have the top record in the Eastern Conference and are off to their best 15-game start in team history.
“Whoever has the hot hand, we want to continue to get it to him,” James said. “Kyrie understands what needs to be done in order for us to win. He showcased that today.”
Joel Embiid had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Jahlil Okafor added 14 points and nine rebounds for Philadelphia, who lost to Cleveland for the eighth consecutive time.
Ersan Ilyasova and Gerald Henderson scored 13 points each, Sergio Rodriguez had 12, Nik Stauskas contributed 11 and Dario Saric added 10.
“They can go to another level and they did,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “We all felt it and saw it. I feel that’s the lesson we all learned since we’ve been together.”
Philadelphia closed a five-game homestand at 2-3.
“I think we’re getting better,” Brown said. “I’m proud of their effort against the NBA champs.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 18 of his 37 points in the third quarter and the Sacramento Kings snapped a seven-game road losing streak to Brooklyn with a 122-105 win.
Cousins got off to a slow start by missing his first three shots and going zero of five in the second quarter when the Kings faced a nine-point deficit.
But the centre helped Sacramento seize command by shooting six of nine in the third.
Rudy Gay added 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds for the Kings. Darren Collison contributed 18 points for Sacramento.
Sean Kilpatrick led the Nets with 22 points, but Brooklyn was outscored 34-18 in the third quarter and lost its seventh straight contest.
In Phoenix, Wilson Chandler scored 25 points and Jameer Nelson added 21 to help the Denver Nuggets outgun the Phoenix Suns 120-114.
Emmanuel Mudiay had 19 points and Kenneth Faried added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Nuggets.
The backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker combined for 65 points for Phoenix.
P.J. Tucker added 21 points and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 15 rebounds, but the Suns had to play from behind the entire game.