THE Cleveland Cavaliers suffered yet another loss in embarrassing circumstances, with LeBron James calling out an old rival for his ‘dirty’ play.
That, and more, is in the NBA Wrap!
AUSSIES IN ACTION
Joe Ingles posted just two points, but had five rebounds and six assists as the Utah Jazz suffered a 99-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Thon Maker finished with five points and four rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 108-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors. In the same game, Matthew Dellavedova chipped in with four assists off the bench.
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CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 95 — INDIANA PACERS 97
LeBron James finished with 27 points but still couldn’t prevent his Cleveland side blowing a 22-point lead to lose to Indiana 97-95 in the NBA. The Pacers have now won three of four and improved to 3-0 against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs.
James had two chances in the final two seconds to win it and missed both opportunities – first, the four-time MVP stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds to go.
Then, after Darren Collison made a free throw to give the Pacers a 97-95 lead, James’ desperation shot at a three-pointer bounced high off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
James also was baited into a technical foul by Lance Stephenson with 7:53 left in the game.
A review showed James shoving Stephenson in the chest, though TV replays showed Stephenson driving his thumb into James’ side.
“Lance is just a little dirty, that’s all. I mean, we got history, so I should’ve known, though,” James said after the loss.
“I’ve know since school that it’s not the guy who tells the joke who gets caught. It’s the guy who laughs. So they caught me on the retaliation. He played well.”
Elsewhere, Bradley Beal and John Wall each scored 30 points and the Washington Wizards snapped a two-game losing streak with a 125-119 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Wall injured his ankle on the final play of the first half after landing on teammate Marcin Gortat’s foot while attempting to rebound.
He left the court but opened the second half and scored 10 points in the third quarter, including an emphatic driving dunk.
And Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 to lead the Charlotte Hornets to their fourth victory in six games, 99-88 over the Utah Jazz.
UTAH JAZZ 88 — CHARLOTTE HORNETS 99
Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 to lead Charlotte over Utah for its fourth victory in six games. Marvin Williams scored 15 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 12 for Charlotte, which won despite an off night for Dwight Howard, who scored just two first-half points. Howard finished with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. He also went 4 for 10 from the foul line.
Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb added 11 points apiece for Charlotte. Donovan Mitchell scored 35 points for Utah, which has lost 14 of 19. Rodney Hood added 15 and Royce O’Neale 11 for Utah, which had been 10-3 when holding opponents to 100 points or fewer.
ORLANDO MAGIC 119 — WASHINGTON WIZARDS 125
Bradley Beal and John Wall each scored 30 points and Washington snapped a two-game losing streak.
Ian Mahinmi finished with a season-high 17 points in the defence-optional game. Washington shot 56.8 percent from the field and scored a season-high 74 points in the paint.
Orlando has lost seven in a row, 16 of 17 and 27 of its last 31. That stretch included a 130-103 rout by Washington on Dec. 23.
Elfrid Payton scored 27 points and Jonathon Simmons had 23 as all five Orlando starters reached double figures. Bismack Biyombo finished 8 of 9 from the field for a career-high 21 points. The Magic hit 51.3 percent of their attempts from the floor after a 6-for-22 fourth quarter.
BROOKLYN NETS 110 — ATLANTA HAWKS 105
Spencer Dinwiddie had 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, Jahlil Okafor added 17 points in a reserve role and Brooklyn beat Atlanta. Dinwiddie made the go-ahead basket with 11 seconds left as the Nets snapped a three-game losing streak to move past an embarrassing 34-point home loss to Detroit two nights earlier.
Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder finished with a career-high 34 points, but after causing matchup problems all night with his ball-handling, he missed his last two layup attempts and committed a game-ending turnover with 5 seconds remaining.
Kent Bazemore had 16 points for the NBA-worst Hawks, who have lost five of six.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 108 — MILWAUKEE BUCKS 94
Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Draymond Green added 21 and Golden State used a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to beat Milwaukee. With sharpshooting star Stephen Curry still sidelined by a right ankle injury, the Warriors clamped down on defence and did most of their damage on the other end in the lane.
Durant’s mid-range jumper gave Golden State a 96-90 lead before the All-Star forward hit an open 3 with 2:15 left to cap the run with a three-possession lead. The Warriors were just 3 of 13 from 3-point range until Durant and Green hit back-to-back 3s in the final 3 minutes to seal their 11th straight road win. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 points to lead the Bucks. They were outscored 28-12 in the fourth after hitting just 5 of 20 from the field.
NEW YORK KNICKS 108 — MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 118
Karl-Anthony Towns fell one assist shy of his second career triple-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Minnesota’s victory over New York.
Taj Gibson added 17 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for Minnesota. The Timberwolves shot 56.7 percent (38 of 67) over the final three quarters to come from behind and win their fourth game in a row and 11th of 14 overall. Kristaps Porzingis scored 17 points for New York. Porzingis was 3 of 5 from 3-point territory but 3 of 14 from inside the arc. Enes Kanter had his 18th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the Knicks lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 113 — NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 119
Anthony Davis scored 36 points in his return from a right ankle sprain, and New Orleans beat Portland.
Davis did not appear at all bothered by the injury that kept him out of Wednesday night’s narrow loss in Memphis, scoring on everything from explosive dribble drives to soaring dunks.
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 19 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 25 points for New Orleans, which hit the halfway point of the regular season one game above .500 and in the Western Conference playoff picture, but still in need of more consistency and less sloppiness.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each scored 23 points for Portland, which attempted 42 3-pointers and missed 30 of them.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES — DENVER NUGGETS
HOUSTON ROCKETS — PHOENIX SUNS
Originally published as LeBron blasts ‘dirty’ rival as Cavs slump continues