James fuels Cavs rout of Magic

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LeBron James No. 23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
AFP PHOTO

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James’ 18 points in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 122-102 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) marked his 788th straight game in which he scored in double digits, moving him to second on the NBA’s all-time list.

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James’s 18 were part of a triple-double that also included 11 rebounds and 11 assists — his 12th triple-double of the season and the 54th of his career in regular-season games.

The last time James failed to score in double digits was on January 5, 2007, when he put up eight points against the Milwaukee Bucks.

He moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest such streak in league history. Michael Jordan heads the list with 866 consecutive games of double-digit scoring.

No doubt more important to James, the victory pulled the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers level with the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference ahead of Wednesday’s showdown between the two.

“Tonight was a big game, too,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “For us to win this game to get to tomorrow’s game. We understood that and in that second half we really played Cavaliers basketball. That’s how we’re capable of playing.”

Trailing 55-53 at halftime, the Cavaliers produced nine three-pointers and authored a 23-point swing in the third quarter to seize control.

Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 28 points and 11 rebounds.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and J.R. Smith chipped in 19.

Smith and Love drained five three-pointers apiece. Kyle Korver, back in action after a four-game absence with a left-foot injury, added three three-pointers and scored 11 points off the bench.

Four of Smith’s three-pointers and two of Korver’s were in the big third quarter.

“No one can survive that,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said.

With 18 three-pointers total, the Cavaliers became the third team in NBA history to make 1,000 three-pointers in a season. Their tally for this campaign now stands at 1,004.

But the Cavs were already turning their attention to Boston —and beyond.

“They’ve been playing some great ball,” James said of the Celtics.

“But I’m not one to get caught up in the regular season. I’m sorry. I’ve been to six straight Finals, man. I’m the last person to ask about a regular-season game.”

Westbrook ties triple-double record
Russell Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles in an NBA season on Tuesday, his 41st triple-double of the campaign fueling the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 110-79 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook drained a three-pointer just before halftime to finish the first half with 12 points.

Minutes into the third period he notched his 10th rebound and within seconds had delivered a 10th assist on Taj Gibson’s basket that put the Thunder up 67-42.

Fans in Oklahoma City went wild, and chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” rang out for Westbrook, who raised an arm in acknowledgement as the feat was recognized by the arena announcer when play was stopped.

“It’s something I could never have dreams of growing up,” said Westbrook, who can break the record Robertson set in the 1961-62 season on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies in Memphis.

“To be able to be on this stage with this group of guys, it’s unbelievable and a blessing.”

Westbrook finished the game with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists and the playoff-bound Thunder snapped a two-game skid.

“It was a special night,” Westbrook said. “Something I’ll definitely never forget. I am truly honored to do it here in Oklahoma City.”

With a seventh straight triple-double, Westbrook matched his career-high streak fashioned earlier this season.

Westbrook’s 41 triple-doubles this season are more than 10 NBA teams have amassed in their club histories.

Spurs claw past Grizzlies
There were wins for the top two teams in the West as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 121-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves while the San Antonio Spurs battled to a 95-89 overtime victory over the Grizzlies.

Klay Thompson poured in 41 points for the Warriors, who won their 12th straight game.

Thompson’s second 40-point game of the season featured seven three-pointers in 14 attempts. Stephen Curry drained three three-pointers on his way to 19 points and handed out a game-high nine assists.

The Spurs and Grizzlies were tied 86-86 with 2:15 to play in overtime before Pau Gasol and Patty Mills nailed three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Spurs ahead for good.

Kawhi Leonard made three free throws in the final minute to seal it, finishing with 32 points and 12 rebounds.

The lead had changed hands three times in a frantic final minute of regulation, with San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, fed by a crisp inbounds pass from Gasol, scoring with 1.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Elsewhere in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers were left clinging to a half-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff seed after they were dominated 106-87 by the Utah Jazz.

The Nuggets pulled off a crucial 134-131 victory in New Orleans that eliminated the Pelicans from playoff contention.

AFP

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