LeBron James had 32 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from their worst defensive outing of the season with a 112-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
Kyrie Irving added 26 points and Kevin Love had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers snapped Charlotte’s three-game winning streak and remained atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Charlotte was led by Kemba Walker, who had 28 points on five 3-pointers. Cody Zeller added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cavaliers did it with defense.
After allowing 73 first-half points – and 70 in the paint – in a 126-113 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, the Cavaliers held the Hornets to 42 percent shooting from the field. It was a welcome change for Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, whose team had allowed its previous four opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
James got hit in the eye by Jeremy Lamb on a driving layup in the closing seconds of the third quarter. He remained down on the court for more than the minute. When he lined up to complete the three-point play, he threw the ball back to the ref because he was unable to focus. The Cavs took a timeout and James returned to the floor to make the free throw.
The Hornets had a chance to tie the game at 100 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Walker made only one of two free throws.
The Cavs took over from there with JR Smith knocking down a 3-pointer from the corner and Kevin Love a 12-footer. James then converted in the lane to push the lead to eight.
The Hornets cut the lead to five, but Nic Batum missed an open 3-pointer from the left wing with 25 seconds left. James added two more free throws to put the game away.
Cavaliers: Irving had his 54th 20-point game of the season. … James barely missed out on his 11th triple-double of the season, falling one rebound short. … The Cavaliers have swept the Hornets seven times.
Hornets: Frank Kaminsky had a rough night, going 0 for 9 from the field. … Walker now has 208 3-pointers this season, second-most in franchise history. … Center Miles Plumlee was cleared to play after missing the last 16 games, but didn’t see any action.
Cavaliers: After an eventful road trip, the world champions return home Saturday night to host the Wizards.
Hornets: Have a rare Sunday matinee when they host the Suns.
Source: Associated Press