NBA: Reigning champions Cavs edge Magic to stay unbeaten

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (left) shooting the ball in front of Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton during their NBA game on Oct 29, 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (left) shooting the ball in front of Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton during their NBA game on Oct 29, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - It was not always pretty, but the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 105-99 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday to stay unbeaten in the fledgling National Basketball Association season.

Shooting guard J.R. Smith sunk three three-pointers in the final three and a half minutes as Cleveland won after letting most of an 18-point lead get away.

"Not every game is going to be pretty for us," Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. "We understand that. (We) came off a kind of late win just like this against Toronto yesterday and now Swish (Smith) hit the big shot. For us it's just about being ready no matter what the score is. We've just got to stay resilient."

Superstar LeBron James had 23 points, nine assists and six rebounds, Irving added 20 and Smith shook off another slow start to score 16 points - 11 of them in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Love fouled out in the final minute with 19 points and five rebounds as the Cavaliers improved to 3-0 for the season less than a week after raising their 2015-16 championship banner.

In Denver, Damian Lillard made a floating seven-foot shot with three-tenths of a second remaining in overtime to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 115-113 triumph over the Nuggets.

Meanwhile, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker sat out San Antonio's home opener, but the Spurs still had enough firepower to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 98-79.