CLEVELAND: LeBron James delivered a dominant performance against his former team on Wednesday (Thursday) leading Cleveland to a 113-93 NBA victory over Miami.
James finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Cavs cruised to their 14th win in 15 games despite playing without Kevin Love for most of the second half.
Love departed after he was poked in the right eye by Heat guard Mario Chalmers early in the third quarter.
Love was hit in the face as he was going up for a rebound and immediately fell to the court, holding his eye.
After several minutes he rose and headed to the locker room.
The Cavs said he had a corneal abrasion, although he was to travel with the team to Chicago for Thursday’s game against the Bulls—the last game before the NBA breaks for this weekend’s All-Star game festivities.
In Love’s absence, Timofey Mozgov stepped up, scoring 14 of his season-high 20 points in the second half.
Tristan Thompson added 17 points and nine rebounds, Kyrie Irving had 15 points and six assists and Iman Shumpert scored 13.
Chalmers scored 18 to lead the Heat, who have lost five of seven with Dwyane Wade sidelined by a hamstring strain and head into the All-Star break with a 22-30 record.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra refused to use Miami’s numerous injuries as an excuse for their position on the edge of playoff contention, in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“This is a men’s only league,” Spoelstra said. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself, don’t make excuses, forge ahead. We’re in the playoffs right now. The best time of year will be when we come back and have that race to the finish.”
With the victory, the Cavaliers avenged a Christmas Day defeat in Miami, James’ first regular-season game against the Heat team he led to two NBA titles and four straight appearances in the finals.