Kyrie Irving, LeBron James lead Cavaliers past 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 19 of his season-high 39 points in the fourth quarter and LeBron James added a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 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.

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.

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.

Love was limited to 28 minutes after receiving stitches for a cut over his right eye sustained early in the first quarter.

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.

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.


Cavaliers: Smith went 0 for 11 from the field, including 0 for 7 from 3-point range. . Channing Frye (personal) was not with the team. Frye’s father died Thursday. . Cleveland beat Philadelphia 102-101 on Nov. 5. . The Cavaliers arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday night following their attendance at the Ohio State-Michigan football game. . 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. . 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 as part of his rehab plan after sitting out the last two seasons with a foot injury.


Wizards’ Bradley Beal fined $15,000 for grabbing Evan Fournier by throat

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It all started Friday night because Washington’s Kelly Oubre went up for the dunk and Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo blocked it (and got called for the blocking foul). As they separated Oubre gave Biyombo a push, Biyombo pushed back, and then a lot of guys came together to defend their teammates.

In that scrum, Washington’s Bradley Beal grabbed Orlando’s Evan Fournier by the throat. It was more of a push-off/Heisman move, no punches were thrown. Doesn’t matter, that’s going to cost Beal $15,000, the league announced on Sunday.

Beal and Fournier each picked up technicals, which is an automatic $2,000 fine also.

Nikola Mirotic says he wants to stay in NBA beyond this season

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Heading into this season, Nikola Mirotic seemed primed to take a leap forward – the Bulls needed to space the floor better on offense, he could be the sharpshooting four the team was looking for.

Instead, while he’s getting 23 minutes a night, he is averaging fewer points (9.6 per game) than a season ago and is shooting just 32.1 percent from three. He’s had a couple of better games lately (15 points against the Lakers) but his season has been inconsistent. Certainly not the leap some envisioned.

Mirotic is a restricted free agent after this season, and it will be interesting to see what the market would offer him — and will the Bulls match. They have said he is part of the Chicago core going forward, but there will be a limit to how much they pay.

For his part, Mirotic said he wants to stay in the NBA — he could return to Real Madrid next season, make good (but slightly less) money and be a star — and he would prefer to stay in Chicago.

“I think (the NBA) is the best place I can grow as a player. I was very comfortable in Madrid. … That was a perfect place to stay and be in a comfort zone, to sign another five years. But that’s not who I am. I like the challenges. … And I came here to prove that I’m ready….

“I love the Bulls,” he said. “I love my teammates. I love the city. It’s the perfect place for me. The first idea is to re-sign.”

The Bulls have a lot of questions heading into next summer: Will Dwyane Wade stay or opt out? Only $3 million of Rajon Rondo‘s $13.4 million is guaranteed, but the Bulls have to decide by June 30, do they keep him? Do they re-sign Taj Gibson, or maybe trade him before the deadline? Both Mirotic and Michael Carter-Williams are restricted free agents, do they get retained?

The answers to those questions will have a lot to do with how the Bulls’ season ends — right now they are tied for the two seed in the East and if they can sustain that and make a deep playoff run there may be fewer changes. For Mirotic, he will have a place in the NBA next season if he wants it, where and for how much remains to be seen. And if he wants it, there is always a soft landing spot in Europe.

JaVale McGee did get a block on Andrew Wiggins, too

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Yes, JaVale McGee did end up in Andrew Wiggins‘ poster Saturday night, it is one of the dunks’ of the year (although I think Zach LaVine’s is better).

That’s the price that is paid for protecting the rim, sometimes you end up getting burned. But McGee did have his moments on Saturday — he got a block on Wiggins. Not a dunk, but a driving Wiggins knew after that he couldn’t go in soft.

McGee is having a solid season for the Warriors off the bench, they are 3.8 points per 100 better when he plays than when he sits. He’s only scoring 4.5 per game, but he’s shooting 67.6 percent and has a PER of 19.4 — he’s been efficient in his limited role.


Joel Embiid powers through Richard Jefferson for and-1, RJ starts jawing back


Cleveland ultimately came away with what they wanted — a 112-108 victory — but Joel Embiid made his mark for Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.

First, there was the block of J.R. Smith. Then later in the first quarter Embiid powered through veteran Richard Jefferson and drew the and-1 — then did a little fist pump in celebration. He also must have said something that Jefferson took offense to because the veteran went off and had teammates step between him and Embiid. I like that the young player basically just blew Jefferson off during the exchange. Embiid finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

The Cavaliers got 39 points from Kyrie Irving and 26 from LeBron James in the eventual win, one they had to work for after starting the game 0-of-14 from the floor.