LOS ANGELES: Kevin Love tallied 29 points and LeBron James reached 26,000 career points as the Cleveland Cavaliers dumped the Detroit Pistons 114-106 in a NBA Central Division contest on Friday night (Saturday in Manila).
Love, who was passed over by the Eastern Conference coaches for the upcoming all-star game, enjoyed his second-highest scoring game this season. The power forward scored 34 against Orlando on November 23.
James became the youngest player ever to reach 26,000-point mark when he made two free throws during the third quarter in front of a crowd of 21,000 at The Palace arena. The four-time league MVP became the 17th player in league history to hit that milestone. He finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and a team-high eight assists.
“Anytime I accomplish something like that, I give thanks to my teammates and all my former teammates,” James said.
Point guard Kyrie Irving finished with 28 points for the Cavaliers, who are 3-1 since Tyronn Lue replaced David Blatt as head coach. Center Tristan Thompson posted a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
“The pace really created a lot of opportunities for us, a lot of possessions,” Irving said. “We found our spots and executed really well.”
New coach Lue is trying to get the Cavaliers to play at a faster tempo.
“We’ve got to learn on the fly with Ty being the head coach,” said Love, who made five of the team’s nine three-pointers. “It’s going to take a little bit more time, but it was good to see that tonight.”
Center Andre Drummond’s 20 points and eight rebounds led the Pistons. Drummond, the first Piston selected to the all-star game since Allen Iverson in 2009, had 25 points and 18 rebounds in Detroit’s 104-99 victory over Cleveland on November 17.
Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 19 points and seven rebounds and rookie forward Stanley Johnson added 15 points and five assists for Detroit.
Durant, Westbrook carry Thunder
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 59 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 116-108 victory over the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant scored 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and had 12 rebounds and three assists. Westbrook earned his sixth triple-double of the season with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
“Good win for us,” said Thunder coach Billy Donovan. “As the game wore on our defense got better and better, and more and more consistent.”
Center Enes Kanter finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds off the bench as Oklahoma City improved to 36-13.
Guard James Harden led the Rockets with 33 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Forward Corey Brewer added 17 points as Houston dropped to 25-24.
Knicks end losing streak
The New York Knicks snapped a four-game losing skid with a 102-84 win over the Phoenix Suns.
New York narrowly missed its second wire-to-wire win of the season. The Suns took a 2-1 lead early in the game but never got back in front.
The Knicks’ lone wire-to-wire win this season came against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 2.
The 18-point win margin against the Suns was the Knicks’ second biggest this season. They defeated Milwaukee 122-97 on opening night.
Phoenix has lost 13 straight road games, the longest road losing streak for the franchise in 32 years. The Suns’ last road win this season came against Chicago on December 7.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony returned after missing two games with a sore knee. Anthony had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for his 12th double-double of the season.
Blazers trip Hornets
Guards Damian Lillard, Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum combined for 59 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 109-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made his season debut for the Hornets as he returned from shoulder surgery to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds.