PHILADELPHIA • LeBron James and Kevin Love carried the Cleveland Cavaliers through three quarters before Kyrie Irving did the rest down the stretch.
The Cleveland point guard scored 20 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter as the defending National Basketball Association (NBA) champions rallied from an early 14-point deficit to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 112-108 on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Centre.
"When you have great players, it can come from any of us at any given moment," said Irving, who shot 14 of 27 from the field. "When one of us gets it going, we always continue to go to that person. It can be anybody's night. We're always trusting each other. That fourth quarter was just for me to be aggressive."
Love had 25 points and 11 rebounds as James added 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his third triple-double of the season. Tristan Thompson contributed 12 points and 12 boards for the Cavaliers (13-2), who own the best record in the Eastern Conference.
It is also the best 15-game start in the history of the franchise.
"Whoever has the hot hand, we want to continue to get it to him," James said. "Kyrie understands what needs to be done in order for us to win. He showcased that today."
Cleveland beat the Sixers for the eighth straight time. But their come-from-behind win occurred without much of a contribution from J.R. Smith, who was 0 of 11 from the field and 0 of 7 from beyond the arc.
"Yeah, keep shooting," coach Tyronn Lue said. "As a shooter you're not going to make every shot. Defensively, he was great like he's been all year. His shots are going to fall. When they do, we'll be really tough to stop."
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia (4-13) with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Jahlil Okafor added 14 points and nine boards. Ersan Ilyasova and Gerald Henderson scored 13 points each. Sergio Rodriguez had 12, while Nik Stauskas contributed 11 and Dario Saric added 10.
"They can go to another level and they did," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "We all felt it and saw it. I feel that's the lesson we all learnt since we've been together."
Philadelphia closed a five-game home stand at 2-3. After winning the first two games against the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, the Sixers dropped home games against the Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and Cavaliers.
"I think we're getting better," Brown said. "I'm proud of their effort against the NBA champs."