LOS ANGELES: The Cleveland Cavaliers romped past Washington on Friday (Saturday in Manila) while their closest pursuers for the NBA Eastern Conference lead, Toronto, battled to a two-point victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
LeBron James had 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in the Cavaliers’ 108-83 victory over the Wizards in Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving added 21 points and eight assists for Cleveland, who snapped the Wizards’ four-game winning streak and avenged a loss in Washington on Sunday when James sat out to rest.
For the rematch, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue shuffled his lineup, starting James at power forward, resting Kevin Love and going with a smaller lineup that featured Iman Shumpert at small forward.
The mix worked. Cleveland led by 17 at halftime and by as many as 30 in the fourth quarter, giving Lue the luxury of resting James for the final period.
The emphatic win came after James was criticized in some quarters for travelling to Miami to train with former Heat team-mate Dwyane Wade.
A couple of cryptic tweets from James had Cavs-watchers wondering if there was trouble brewing in the locker room, but on the court all was well.
“To be able to come out and play like we did tonight—it’s a step in the right direction,” James said.
John Wall scored 17 points with eight rebounds and seven assists, sitting out the fourth quarter after twisting an ankle.
Markieff Morris had 13 points and five assists for the Wizards, but Washington committed 16 turnovers and remained outside of playoff position in 10th place in the East.
DeRozan leads Raptors
In Toronto, the Raptors maintained their grip on second in the East, withstanding 50 points from Portland’s Damian Lillard to beat the Trail Blazers 117-115.
DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points, setting an NBA record by making 24 straight free throws before missing his final effort from the foul-line.
Overall the Raptors made a club record 43 free throws as they stretched their club-best home winning streak to 12 games.
Kyle Lowry added 28 points and six assists and Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto.
C.J. McCollum added 24 points for the Trail Blazers, but he and Lillard were the only Portland players to score in double figures.
It was close in Boston, as well, where the Celtics stormed from eight points down with less than four minutes to play to beat the struggling New York Knicks 105-104.
Avery Bradley drove for the winning points with 17.7 seconds remaining, lifting the Celtics to their 13th straight home win.
Isaiah Thomas scored 32 points and handed out eight assists—his second straight 30-point game for Boston.