NBA: Star duo lead Cavs to victory

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James driving to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first quarter of the NBA game at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 113-102.
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James driving to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first quarter of the NBA game at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 113-102.PHOTO: REUTERS

James and Irving combine for 60 points as Cleveland beat Milwaukee twice in 24 hours

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James' reward for making three three-pointers in 71 seconds was a seat on the bench.

After playing 47 minutes in Tuesday's overtime win against the same opponents the Milwaukee Bucks, he was fortunate to be in the National Basketball Association (NBA) game at all.

Kyrie Irving scored 31 points and passed for a career-high 13 assists, while James scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Cavs' 113-102 victory on Wednesday.

It was their second win against the Bucks in 24 hours and came while they were down two starters.

With Kevin Love again sidelined by a knee injury, James and Irving were forced to carry the Cavs again. Like James, Irving played 45 minutes on Tuesday at Milwaukee.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was originally inclined to rest Irving and James, but both insisted they felt great.

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  • LeBron James' minutes per game, third in the NBA behind Zach LaVine of Minnesota and New Orleans' Anthony Davis.

So, Lue ran them both back out there and they did what stars do - they won the game for Cleveland.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 15 rebounds on a night James and Irving combined for 60 points, 19 assists and 15 rebounds. This time, Lue limited James to 34 minutes and Irving to 35.

That meant pulling James off with 5min 6sec left in the half despite him draining threes on three consecutive Cavs possessions.

"Bron had it going but I had to get him out," Lue said. "He was mad, but so what?"

Said James: "He (Lue) said, 'I'm coming to get you after this play. I wished he would've changed his mind. It's cool though. We won."

It was the Cavs' first appearance knowing J.R. Smith would be out an extended period of time.

Smith fractured his right thumb on Tuesday and will require surgery, but the Cavs (21-6) still exceeded their season average (13.5) for three-pointers per game with 15 on Wednesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points and Jabari Parker scored 27 on a night the Bucks (13-14) relied just as heavily on their stars.

"They're the champs. They showed that again tonight," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

"They never panic. For a young team like ourselves, hopefully we can learn from our mistakes."

Irving said he is getting up for games against the Bucks now because of how badly they beat Cleveland in Milwaukee (118-101) last month.

He hopes to see them in the play-offs later this season, although going against his former team-mate Matthew Dellavedova certainly helps, too.

"They're a great young team. I'm fired up to go against them every time now, for real," Irving said.

"Ever since they kicked our a** in Milwaukee, it's been personal."

Aussie guard Dellavedova got a warm welcome back to Cleveland, as the Cavaliers presented him with the NBA championship ring he won with the team last season.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2016, with the headline 'Star duo lead Cavs to victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe