CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James scored 39 points, Kevin Love added 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 118-113 in overtime on Friday night over the skidding Los Angeles Clippers, who dropped their seventh in a row.
Love drained a pair of 3-pointers in OT, when the Cavs outscored the Clippers 13-8. Dwyane Wade added 23 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland.
The Cavs’ win wasn’t eye-pleasing, but it was another step in the right direction for the Eastern Conference champions, who went 3-1 on a just-completed road trip.
The Clippers are headed the other way. Los Angeles has lost nine of 10 since a 4-0 start.
Blake Griffin scored 23 and DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 22 rebounds for Los Angeles, which didn’t give up the lead until the first minute of overtime. The Clippers had chances to put the Cavs away in regulation, but they didn’t execute down the stretch and then had defensive breakdowns in overtime.
The Cavaliers again played without starting point guard Derrick Rose, who will miss at least two more weeks with a nagging left ankle injury.
The Cavs spent all night chasing the Clippers and caught them at 105-all when Love grabbed an offensive rebound and fed James, who dropped an uncontested 3-pointer with 47 seconds left.
Griffin missed tough shots on consecutive possessions, giving Cleveland one last chance in regulation but James missed an off-balance left-hander just before the horn.
James made a free throw to open OT – he went 1 of 5 at the line – and give Cleveland its first lead. Then, after Love made his two 3s, James sealed the Cavs’ fifth win in six games with a jumper.
Wade’s aggressiveness in the second quarter helped the Cavs shake off an atrocious start. Down 10 points, Cleveland chipped away and despite some defensive lapses, the Cavs somehow tied the Clippers 56-all at halftime on James’ step-back jumper over Griffin in the final second.
Wade scored 17 in the quarter, 11 on free throws, as he was able to draw fouls with drives and extra-effort plays.
Clippers: Jordan made his first eight shots, three on dunks. … G Patrick Beverely (sore right knee) missed his fourth straight game. … Coach Doc Rivers is “amazed” by James, who just over a month shy of his 33rd birthday, hasn’t slowed physically. “Most players when they get to his age are smart enough now they see everything,” he said. “But usually when they get to that age, they’re too old to do anything about it. He has both going for him. He can beat you with his brain. He can beat you with his power. It’s a daunting task when you watch him on film.”
Cavaliers: Rose’s ankle will be immobilized in a boot for the next week and he could undergo treatment for as many as three more weeks. … Iman Shumpert started again at point, but left in the first quarter a sore left knee and didn’t return. … G Jose Calderon played his first minutes since Nov. 1. … Working toward his return from a hip injury, G Isaiah Thomas got in two on-court workouts before the game. … Cleveland has won 33 of its last 39 home games against Western Conference teams.
Clippers: Continue road trip on Saturday in Charlotte.
Cavaliers: At Detroit on Monday.
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