James scores season high as Cavaliers beat Warriors
LeBron James says he isn’t about personal statements. He made one anyway on Thursday.
James scored a season-high 42 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 110-99 for an 18th victory in their last 20 NBA games.
James added 11 rebounds, outplaying fellow MVP candidate Stephen Curry, and leading Cleveland past the team with the NBA’s best record for its 11th straight home victory.
James downplayed any talk that the performance may put him in the lead for MVP consideration.
“That’s not why I’m here,” he said. “I’ve got to be the MVP for these guys, the 14 guys in the locker room. When I’m on the floor I’ll try to do everything I can to help this team win.”
The Cavaliers did get a bit of bad news. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 24 points, injured his left shoulder and didn’t travel with the team to Indiana for Friday’s game. A team spokesman said Irving will have an exam on Friday and is doubtful against the Pacers.
Curry scored 18 points, but had only six after the first quarter and was 5 of 17 from the field.
“I hope it’s not handed out on this one game,” Curry said of the MVP talk. “I hope it’s about the body of work. Tonight just wasn’t my best game. Shots that I normally make didn’t fall tonight.”
David Lee led Golden State with 19 points.
James was out with knee and back injuries when the teams met on Jan. 9, a 112-94 win for Golden State. Although the four-time MVP hit 15 of 25 from the field on Thursday, the back apparently is still an issue. James stretched out on the floor instead of sitting on the bench when he had a rest in the fourth quarter.
In the only other game, Russell Westbrook scored 39 points in his 12th career triple-double but missed what would have been the game-tying layup with 5.7 seconds left in overtime, as Oklahoma City’s seven-game winning streak was ended by the Phoenix Suns 117-113 in overtime.
In an intense matchup of point guards, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe just missed a triple-double with 28 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
Westbrook missed his first eight shots and finished 12 of 38, 1 of 10 from 3-point range, but scored 31 in the second half and overtime for his fourth triple-double this season.
Markieff Morris scored 29 for the Suns, who pulled within 1½ games of the Thunder for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.