James scores 27 on milestone night, Cavs cruise past Celtics
CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James doesn't usually spend a lot of time talking about personal accomplishments, but he made an exception Tuesday night.
James scored 27 points to move into 21st place on the NBA's career list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to a 110-79 victory over the Boston Celtics.
James, who has 24,508 career points, moved past former Miami Heat teammate Ray Allen with a layup in the third quarter.
"He's one of my best friends," James said. "He's a guy I competed against and grew up watching, and to be able to team with him the last two years when I was with Miami, I learned so much from him. To know I passed him, it's very humbling."
The Cavaliers have been one of several teams rumored to sign Allen, who hasn't played this season. Asked if passing Allen might give him the incentive to return, James laughed and said, "He'll make one 3 and then retire? I'm going to call him. I don't know. It's pretty cool."
James was pulled with 4:41 remaining in the period and didn't return, playing 26 minutes.
Kyrie Irving scored 18 points in his return after missing two games with a shoulder injury, and Kevin Love who played despite missing the morning shoot-around due to illness added 12 points.
The Cavaliers, coming off their first back-to-back defeats since early last month, went ahead midway through the first quarter and rolled to their 19th victory in the last 23 games. Cleveland hadn't lost two in a row since a six-game skid Jan. 4-13. The Cavs have also won 12 straight at home.
Brandon Bass scored 15 points to lead Boston, which lost by its largest margin of the season.
James scored 21 points in the first half. He brought the crowd to its feet when he drove past Avery Bradley with a behind-the-back move for a dunk in the second quarter. The four-time MVP was 12 for 23 from the field.
Irving strained his left shoulder last week against Golden State and missed road losses to Indiana and Houston.
The Cavaliers trail second place Toronto by a game in the Eastern Conference. The teams play in Toronto on Wednesday and Cleveland follows that with a game in Atlanta, the top team in the East, on Friday.
James has scored 106 points in his last three games. He had 37 points in Sunday's loss to Houston, but was 3 of 11 at the foul line, including two misses with 4.2 seconds left in overtime and the Cavaliers behind by a point.
Coach David Blatt wasn't concerned his team dropped two difficult road games to Indiana and Houston. James and Irving both sat out against the Pacers while Irving missed the Rockets game.
"For the most part we gave ourselves a chance to win," he said. "You're going to fall back once in a while in this wondrous NBA."
The Celtics seemed to be suffering the effects of Sunday's home loss to the Warriors in which they couldn't hold a 26-point lead.
"The way we played is not the right way," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "It's not acceptable. We played individual basketball the whole night, and you can't do that. We were bad."
Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 21.8 points in five games since being traded to Boston last month, was held to 11.
Celtics: Bradley missed a wide-open dunk in the first quarter, drawing a loud reaction from the crowd. ... C Kelly Olynyk (sprained right ankle) played 3-on-3 at the morning shoot-around, but missed his 18th straight game. "He can move laterally fine, so I can't imagine it's going to be long until he's back," Stevens said. ... C Tyler Zeller spent his first two NBA seasons with the Cavaliers before being traded to Boston last summer.
Cavaliers: James' season-low in minutes is 25 against Washington on Feb. 20. ... James was 3 for 3 from the free-throw line after going 21 of 40 in his last five games. ... C Kendrick Perkins scored five points, his first with the Cavaliers ... Cleveland hadn't won 12 straight at home since winning 16 straight Feb. 11-April 12, 2009.
JUST GET THERE
James isn't dwelling at this point on which seed he's eyeing.
"Top eight," he said when asked in which spot he'd like to see the Cavaliers finish. "Put me in the playoffs, I'm all right. Once I get in the playoffs, I'm confident against anybody."
Stevens was understandably displeased with his team's performance, saying, "It's not OK walking out of here thinking that type of game was OK. We've got to get back to being a good team. I think (our) guys got used to being told how good they were for a while there, and they stopped playing the right way."
Celtics: Host Utah on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: At Toronto on Wednesday.