CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James scored 31 points, J.R. Smith matched a season high with 27 and the Cleveland Cavaliers knocked down 16 3-pointers while playing without an injured Kyrie Irving in a 112-103 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
James added 12 assists and eight rebounds and Kevin Love added 25 points for the Cavs, who held off a comeback in the fourth quarter to open a 3½-game lead over idle Toronto for the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Smith made six 3-pointers and Love had five.
Cleveland has five games left in the regular season, including four against teams fighting for postseason positioning.
Kemba Walker scored 29 points – 21 in the second half – and Marvin Williams added 22 for the Hornets, who got within 96-92 in the fourth before Smith and Love answered with 3-pointers.
Charlotte clinched a playoff spot on Saturday and came in temporarily holding the No. 3 spot in the East. The Hornets are 21-7 since Feb. 1.
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