CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 24 points, including three key baskets down the stretch, and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off the short-handed New York Knicks 91-84 on Wednesday night.
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony didn’t play because of a sprained right ankle. New York went scoreless for nearly 4 minutes after taking an 82-80 lead.
Kevin Love added 23 points with 13 rebounds for Cleveland.
James’ layup off a turnover gave the Cavs the lead for good at 84-82 with 3:15 remaining. He added two free throws and a resounding dunk that put Cleveland ahead 88-82.
The Cavaliers, who visit Golden State on Friday in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals, have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland, plagued by injuries all season, played with a full roster for the first time.
Rookie forward Kristaps Porzingis had 23 points with 12 rebounds for the Knicks, but didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
Anthony, averaging 21.8 points in 28 games, was injured during Monday night’s loss to Orlando. Knicks coach Derek Fisher expects the eight-time All-Star to play Saturday.
Cleveland built an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but Porzingis’ 3-pointer at the buzzer cut it to 55-50. New York tied the game late in the third, and the score was 72-all going into the fourth.
The Knicks took an 82-80 lead on Langston Galloway‘s shot with 4:07 remaining, but Tristan Thompson‘s basket tied it with 3:40 left. New York called a timeout on its next possession with the shot clock winding down, but threw away the inbounds pass.
Matthew Dellavedova dribbled into the frontcourt and found James for a layup. James added two free throws and then soared to the basket for a powerful dunk as Cleveland took control.
Arron Afflalo scored 16 for the Knicks.
Thompson had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
Knicks: Anthony missed his second game this season. He didn’t play Nov. 29 because of strep throat. … Lance Thomas started in place of Anthony, scoring eight points in 34 minutes. … Porzingis blocked James’ shot as the four-time MVP drove to the basket in the second quarter.
Cavaliers: Point guard Mo Williams returned after missing two games with a sprained right thumb, finally giving coach David Blatt a full complement of players. He used 10 in the first quarter.