NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James had 32 points and 10 assists, Kevin Love added 23 points and 16 rebounds in his return from back spasms, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 111-104 on Saturday night.
The Cavaliers won for the ninth straight time against the Knicks and didn’t even need Kyrie Irving, who didn’t play because of right quadriceps soreness.
Love was back after missing two games and showed why the NBA champions may have no reason to entertain the trade rumors involving him and Carmelo Anthony that surround the teams.
The Cavs, who won the first two meetings by an average of 30.5 points, led this one by 27 in the opener to a four-game road trip.
The Knicks have contacted the Cavs about trading him for Love, according to reports, but Love looked the better player Saturday and seemed healthy while playing 35 minutes.
James became the youngest player to surpass 28,000 points in leading the Cavs to their seventh straight win at Madison Square Garden, one of his favorite arenas. And he led the defensive effort against Anthony, who shot just 6 for 20 from the field.
One of those makes was when he stole the ball from James and dunked to cut it to 106-101 with 59 seconds left. But James came down on the next possession and found Love in the corner for an open 3-pointer, then drove around and through the Knicks defense for a dunk that pushed the lead back to double digits.
Cavaliers: Cleveland improved to 13-0 against the Atlantic Division. … Former Knicks forward Channing Frye scored 14 points.
Knicks: Starting center Joakim Noah played just six minutes because of a sore left hamstring. … Saturday was the fifth anniversary of the kickoff of “Linsanity,” when Jeremy Lin, then a little-known reserve, came off the bench to spark the Knicks a comeback victory and begin his dizzying couple of weeks when he was briefly an NBA star.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he was picking the Patriots to win Sunday’s Super Bowl because of his respect for Bill Belichick. Lue said he became a fan when he was a Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers, when the coaching staffs visited each other.
“I like what he does, I like what he brings, I like who he is as a coach,” Lue said.
James declined to make a prediction.
TRIPLE, MAKE THAT, DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Saturday was the eighth anniversary of James’ triple-double that wasn’t. He was credited with 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the Cavs’ 107-102 victory here on Feb. 4, 2009, making him the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 with 50 points in a triple-double. But the NBA removed the final rebound shortly after following a review of the video.
“We got a win. That’s the only thing that kind of mattered to me,” James said when asked to recall that. “If it happens to come in the flow of the game and I’m able to get a triple-double, cool. But I’ve always, obviously you guys know me, I only care about the win in that sense.”
The Knicks honored five members of their 1988-89 Atlantic Division championship team that set a then-NBA record with 386 3-pointers. Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland, Gerald Wilkins, Trent Tucker and Johnny Newman were the members of the “Bomb Squad” that made the 3-point shot a weapon under Rick Pitino long before it was utilized the way it is in today’s game.