LOS ANGELES: Cleveland superstar LeBron James matched NBA icon Michael Jordan’s record streak of 866 straight double-digit scoring games Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) in leading the Cavaliers to a 118-105 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
James finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Cavs, who bounced back from a dismal defeat in Miami on Tuesday in which they scored just 79 points.
He hit double digits in the second quarter with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from JR Smith.
“Any time I’m in the same conversation with Mike and other great guys it lets me know I’m doing the right thing,” said James, whose streak began on January 6, 2007.
Jordan put together his streak from 1986-2001.
It was a milestone night for Charlotte’s Kemba Walker as well. With 21 points he surpassed Dell Curry (9,839 points) as the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer.
James said such moments should be savored — even in a losing effort. But he said records aren’t what drive him.
“My motivation is love of the game,” he said.
James said the Cavs had to bounce back after they were stymied by the Heat.
“Miami did a great job of pushing us out of our comfort zone and we wanted to come in here tonight and try to get that back, and we did that,” said James.
Cleveland, who were without Kevin Love after the forward suffered a concussion in Miami, are just half a game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for third place in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers’ 118-101 victory over the New York Knicks was their eighth straight, their longest winning streak since they won nine in a row from February 12 through March 3, 2003.
Dario Saric led Philadelphia with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, but the 76ers saw All-Star Joel Embiid depart in the first half with what the team called a facial contusion after an accidental collision with teammate Markelle Fultz.
The Sixers initial tests didn’t indicate a concussion, but Embiid was hospitalized after the game, posting a brief video of himself there on Instagram captioned “Not Good”.
Towns on fire
In Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns erupted for a career-high 56 points to propel the Timberwolves to a 126-114 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Timberwolves, who are chasing their first playoff berth since 2004 and who moved up to seventh in the Western Conference with the win and Utah’s 97-94 loss to the Boston Celtics that dropped the Jazz into the eighth and final playoff spot.
“It’s great to have nights like this, but it’s better to be in the playoffs,” said the 22-year-old Towns, who eclipsed the club scoring record of 52 points held by Mo Williams.
But nothing is assured as the regular season hurtles to a finish. The Los Angeles Clippers, ninth in the West, kept the pressure on Minnesota and Utah with a 111-99 victory over the Suns in Phoenix.
The Jazz endured a heart-breaker on their home floor in Salt Lake City.
The Celtics arrived without injured All-Star Al Horford and Marcus Morris as well as Kyrie Irving — who is out for the rest of the regular-season after knee surgery — but came away with an unlikely win thanks to Jaylen Brown’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.
“We’re fighters,” said Boston’s Shane Larkin, who came off the bench to score 10 points. “That’s what we do.”
It was a big night for CJ McCollum in Memphis, where he scored 42 points to lead the lowly Grizzlies to a 108-103 victory over a Portland Trail Blazers team missing star Damian Lillard — who stayed home for the birth of his first child.