CLEVELAND - LeBron James notched a triple-double and the Cleveland Cavaliers set a franchise record with only two turnovers.
Still, this Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory was no masterpiece.
“It was an ugly ballgame, but you’ve got to win ugly sometimes,” said Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who recorded his 200th career victory in a 97-92 win against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the 24th triple-double of his career. The Cavaliers are 55-13—31-1 at home—and leading the race for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
“It’s all about the team,” said James, who had six points in overtime.
The number that caught his eye was Cleveland’s two turnovers, setting a franchise record and matching the NBA mark set by Milwaukee against Indiana on April 1, 2006.
“That’s good basketball. We did a good job protecting the ball,” James said.
The Cavaliers have won seven straight and 10 of 11. They hold a 4 1/2 -game lead over Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
But Cleveland wasn’t at its best against Portland. The Cavaliers were 4-for-21 in the first quarter and couldn’t hold an eight-point lead in the fourth.
James, who has seven triple-doubles this season, put Cleveland ahead for good with a drive to the basket after the jump ball in overtime.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added a free throw and a basket, giving the Cavaliers a 91-86 lead with 3:15 left. James hit two more baskets as the Cavaliers outscored Portland 11-6 in the extra session.
James scored twice late in regulation to give Cleveland an 86-82 lead, but Brandon Roy, who led Portland with 24 points, hit four free throws in the final 34 seconds—the last two coming with 3.4 seconds left—to tie the game.
Roy faked James into the air and his foot barely straddled the 3-point line when contact was made, sending Roy to the line for the tying free throws.
“He wasn’t going to let me make a walk-off 3 on him,” Roy said of James. “As soon as I did my last move, I went for the pump and he went for it. It’s almost like he knew I was going to shoot a 3 and he was timing it. I got up in the air, and he did a somewhat good job of going straight up. So I had to lean into him a little bit. That’s when my toe went over the line.”
James missed a running 12-footer and the game went into overtime. Ever the perfectionist, he found fault with himself for missing the shot.
“I make those shots all the time,” James said. “It was just a little short.”
Hawks 95, Mavericks 87
At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 24 points, reserve Flip Murray had 19 and the Hawks won their seventh straight.
Atlanta moved four games ahead of fifth-place Miami in the Eastern Conference standings.
Dallas has lost three of four to drop 1 1/2 behind seventh-place Utah in the West, but the Mavericks are still 3 1/2 ahead of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, which was without two starters, swingman Josh Howard, who has a sore left ankle, and forward Erick Dampier, who has a swollen left knee and missed his first game of the season.
Lakers 114, Warriors 106
At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 21 points to lead the Lakers.
The victory was the Lakers’ 31st at home, eclipsing last season’s total, and kept them a full game behind Cleveland for the NBA’s best record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with 14 games remaining.
Monta Ellis scored 27 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 25 for the Warriors, who have lost 19 of their last 22 meetings with the Lakers and are 2-18 at Staples Center since the arena opened in 1999.