LeBron James changed shoes at halftime on Friday night. Then, he turned the game in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ favor.
James notched another triple-double and was all over the court during the Charlotte Hornets’ final possession, helping the Cavs hang on to beat the Hornets 100-99.
James finished with 27 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists for his 57th regular-season triple-double and his second this season.
He was already in double-digit points, rebounds and assists before the fourth quarter started, but scored just six points on 3-of-8 shooting at halftime.
Then he switched out of a yellow pair of his Nike signature shoes and into a black pair.
“I just wasn’t playing well,” James said. “So, I’m a little weird sometimes. I wasn’t playing well, up to my standards.”
He fixed that and then some.
J.R. Smith, who contributed 16 points for the Cavs, put them ahead for good with a free throw with 48.2 seconds left, making the score 100-99.
The Hornets had the ball with 11.1 seconds left and looked to Kemba Walker, but he could not get past James for a layup and gave the ball to Jeremy Lamb. Facing pressure, Lamb heaved a 3-pointer that missed. James then blocked Walker’s 3-point attempt from 11.6m away as time expired.
The Cavs have won seven straight overall for the longest active streak in the NBA, and eight in a row over Charlotte.
“We missed six free throws in the fourth quarter on the road in a one-point game,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “I think that is a big part of the story, obviously.”
Meanwhile, Cleveland guard Derrick Rose is on leave and in the process of assessing his future with the team, US media reported on Friday.
Rose has missed the past seven games due to a sprained left ankle, the latest in a long list of ailments he has suffered during his all-star career.
ESPN quoted a team source as saying that Rose is “tired of being hurt and it’s taking a toll on him mentally.”
The 29-year-old Rose is in his first season with Cleveland. The Cavaliers said his absence is excused.
“Take as long as he wants to take and we wish him well and we want him back,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
Rose originally suffered the ankle injury on Oct. 20. He returned to play in five games, but suffered a setback on Nov. 7 and has not played since.
Warriors 143, Bulls 94
Stephen Curry put on a thrilling display with 33 points to lead the Golden State Warriors over the Chicago Bulls on a night Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were out.
Curry notched his seventh career 30-point half and 21st 20-point quarter, when he scored 26 in the second as the Warriors matched their biggest half of the season with a 74-53 lead at halftime.
Steph was feeling it, all right, following up a deep 3-pointer in the second quarter with a high-step shuffle and chest pat before waving his hands in the air for the crowd to join the fun.
With Green’s muscle-flexing absent, Curry drove left and over Robin Lopez for a layup late in the second and was fouled. On the floor beneath the basket, he flexed his biceps in celebration.
Additional reporting by AFP and AP
In Friday’s other games, it was:
‧ Trail Blazers 127, Nets 125
‧ Hawks 116, Knicks 104
‧ Celtics 118, Magic 103
‧ Heat 109, Timberwolves 97
‧ Pacers 107, Raptors 104
‧ Pistons 99, Thunder 98
‧ Nuggets 104, Grizzlies 92
‧ Pelicans 115, Suns 91
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