Irving leads Cavaliers past 76ers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Cavaliers have so many ways to beat teams, and this time it was Kyrie Irving’s turn to win a game.
Irving scored 19 of his season-high 39 points in the fourth quarter and LeBron James had a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, leading Cleveland to a 112-108 comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Kevin Love chipped in 25 points and 11 rebounds to help the defending champions (13-2) improve to their fourth straight win.
“When you have great players, it can come from any of us at any given moment,” Irving said. “When one of us gets it going, we always continue to go to that person. It can be anybody’s night. We’re always trusting each other. That fourth quarter was just for me to be aggressive.”
Joel Embiid led seven players in double figures with 22 points for the 76ers, who have lost three straight. Embiid also had nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
“When those guys are on like that, it’s really hard to beat them,” Embiid said.
The Cavaliers never led through the first three quarters, but Irving got hot early in the fourth to put Cleveland in front. He gave Cleveland its first lead on a layup 2:38 into the period and had 10 of the first 13 Cavaliers fourth-quarter points on a variety of jumpers and drives. His layup with 7:51 left gave Cleveland its biggest lead to that point, 90-86.
Asked what he liked about Irving’s fourth quarter, James said, “Could you not like everything?”
“Whoever has the hot hand, we want to continue to get it to him,” James said. “Kyrie understands what needs to be done in order for us to win. He showcased that today.”
Cleveland trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half. The Cavaliers got as close as 72-70 on James Jones’ 3-pointer with 3:53 left in the third quarter. But the 76ers scored nine of the next 10 points, capped by Dario Saric’s 3-pointer that made it 81-71. James had four and Love two as the Cavaliers ran off the final six points of the quarter to enter the final period down 81-77.
Love was limited to 28 minutes after receiving five stitches for a cut over his right eye suffered early in the first quarter.
The Cavs missed their first 14 shots, but Philadelphia couldn’t take full advantage and led just 10-2 before James’ driving layup with 6:50 left in the first quarter resulted in Cleveland’s first field goal.
James and Embiid got into a verbal altercation late in the first quarter. Richard Jefferson was whistled for a foul on Embiid’s drive, and James questioned the call. Embiid went toward James’ direction, but officials stepped between the players. The incident drew a rise in the crowd.
James provided a couple of first-half highlights, dunking with 6:03 left in the first quarter and then following a missed free throw with a dunk with 1:17 to go in the first half. He has three triple-doubles this season.
J.R. Smith went 0 for 11 from the field, including 0 for 7 from 3-point range.
“As a shooter you’re not going to make every shot,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Defensively, he was great like he’s been all year. His shots are going to fall. When they do, we’ll be really tough to stop.”
Embiid was limited to 25 minutes, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, as part of his minutes restriction that is part of his rehab plan after missing the last two seasons with a foot injury.
“You come up with some really hard decisions that maybe don’t favor me or us or whatever,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “But for the long term lens that we all have, we have to be responsible with Joel Embiid. Winning a game in the middle of November in 2016 sometimes that takes a back seat.”
Embiid didn’t play in Friday’s 105-89 loss to the Bulls and won’t play Monday night at Toronto, marking the sixth game he will miss this season.
IT MUST BE THE SHOES
James was excited about many Ohio State players wearing his shoes in Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan football game, a game in which the Cavaliers attended as a team.
“They looked good in those shoes,” James said. “It was a proud moment for me. I don’t get too happy about a lot of things, but I was happy about that.”
Cavaliers: Channing Frye (personal) was not with the team. Frye’s father died Thursday. … Cleveland beat Philadelphia 102-101 on Nov. 5. … James’ 3-pointer with 5:01 left in the second period was his 1,000th as a member of the Cavaliers. … Cleveland has made at least 10 3-pointers in every game this season.
76ers: Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) didn’t play. Bayless missed the first 13 games of the season with a left wrist injury.
Cavaliers: At Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
76ers: At Toronto on Monday night.