James has landmark game as Cavaliers beat Celtics

CLEVELAND • LeBron James led eight Cavaliers in double figures with 28 points and reached two more milestones in his illustrious career while Cleveland crushed the Boston Celtics 120-103 on Saturday.

Kyrie Irving contributed 20 points, Iman Shumpert posted a career-high 16 rebounds to go with 12 points off the bench, and J.R. Smith delivered 14 points in what was a bit of a payback win for the Cavs.

One month ago in Cleveland, Boston trailed by four points with nine seconds left and pulled off a 104-103 triumph. "Let's be honest, we were really lucky to win here last time," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game.

James was his usual dominant self, posting 11 rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes.

In the third quarter, the forward passed San Antonio great Tim Duncan (26,366 points) for 14th on the National Basketball Association's all-time scoring list, and notched at least 10 points for the 700th consecutive regular-season game - the third-longest streak in NBA history.

"He's the greatest power forward of all time, if not one of the greatest of all time, period," said James of the 39-year-old Duncan, whom he has met three times in the NBA Finals, with his Miami Heat beating the Spurs in 2013.

"I got so many different stories and so many different things and situations that have been linked to him. Even though he's a few years older than me, we just stayed linked," added the 31-year-old.

"I just think what he's done for this league. You look at a guy like that and it kind of puts you right back in place."

Duncan sat out the Spurs' 104-94 win against the Sacramento Kings.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 27 points. Former Ohio State standout power forward Jared Sullinger added 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The Celtics led 35-22 after one quarter, shooting 60 per cent as Boston tied the most points Cleveland have allowed in an opening quarter all season. But the Cavs restored order with a 12-0 run during the second quarter.

The Cavs led by eight points after three periods and were determined to avoid a repeat of last month's disaster.

They pushed their lead to 16 points with 2min 58sec to go with a great play from James. With the shot clock winding down, he drained a fadeaway and was fouled, and cashed in on the free throw. The Celtics were also given a technical for arguing, and Matthew Dellavedova converted the foul shot.

"We knew we were going to have to play a lot better than last time to win the game," Stevens said. "We did it for a quarter instead of for four."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'James has landmark game as Cavaliers beat Celtics'. Print Edition | Subscribe