Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Cavaliers stop rot, but still trail Celtics

MISERABLE MARCH:Kyrie Irving said the result was important as the playoffs loom and it was important that Cleveland ‘keep building from here and not look back’


The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James dunks over Justin Anderson of the Philadelphia 76ers at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

The Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday snapped a three-game skid, but the Boston Celtics’ own narrow victory maintained their slender lead over the reigning NBA champions atop the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs put a miserable March in the rear-view mirror with their 122-105 victory over the hapless Philadelphia 76ers.

LeBron James scored 34 points, Kyrie Irving added 24 and Kevin Love contributed 18 in the victory, which followed on the heels of a three-game losing streak.

“We needed this game, we needed to get this win,” Irving said after the Cavs went 7-10 last month.

The Cavs had lost three straight and five of their previous seven going into the contest, but Irving said the turnaround, with the playoffs two weeks away, was under way.

“We’ve got to keep building from here and not look back,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

The Cavs struggles opened the door for the Celtics and they have seized their opportunity.

Two free throws from Al Horford with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining proved the difference in Boston’s 117-116 victory over the Orlando Magic, which kept them 0.5 games ahead of the Cavs atop the East.

The Celtics’ 15th win in their past 17 home games was not certain until Amir Johnson contested Elfrid Payton’s drive in the closing minutes. Payton missed, and Horford grabbed the rebound.

Isaiah Thomas scored 35 points and handed out seven assists for the Celtics, who notched their 49th win of the season — their most since the 2010-2011 campaign.

“It was a crazy finish, but we kept our composure and got stops when we needed it,” Thomas said.

Western Conference leaders Golden State notched a 10th straight win, throttling Houston’s potent offense as they rallied late for a 107-98 victory over the Rockets.

The Spurs, with 28 points from Kawhi Leonard, 17 from Pau Gasol and 14 from LaMarcus Aldridge, withstood Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook’s 39th triple-double of the season to beat the Thunder 100-95.

The Memphis Grizzlies are headed back to the post-season for the seventh straight year after a 99-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

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