‘For me, it’s one of those games where they were faster and harder than us’
Struggling with star forward Kevin Love sidelined by back spasms, the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers were downed 104-97 at Dallas on Monday.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting while Kyrie Irving added 18 points and five assists but made six turnovers, only one fewer than the entire Mavericks’ squad.
But an up-tempo Dallas attack proved more than the Cavaliers could stand a night after defeating Oklahoma City. The Mavericks seized a 100-85 edge with 4:18 to play on a 3-pointer by Yogi Ferrell and coasted home from there.
Love stayed home for medical tests Monday and no structural damage was found in his back, but he will also miss the Cavaliers’ home game Wednesday against Minnesota.
Love departed in the first half of Sunday’s 107-91 victory over Oklahoma City due to back issues. He is averaging 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Dallas forward Harrison Barnes had a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, and guard Wesley Matthews added 21 points. Ferrell had 19 points and Curry added 16 for the Mavericks.
The Cavaliers fell to 32-15 but still remained the top team in the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games over Boston, while the Mavericks rose to 18-30, third-worst in the Western Conference but only four games out of the last West playoff spot.
“For me, it’s one of those games where they were faster than us,” Lue said. “They were attacking the basket. They just ran faster and harder than us.”
Cousins hits 46 in loss
The Philadelphia 76ers, playing without team points and rebounds leader Joel Embiid, had 23 points and 10 rebounds from Robert Covington and 17 off the bench from Dario Saric in a 122-119 home victory over Sacramento. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins produced 46 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, but the Kings squandered a 16-point second quarter lead and the 76ers finished January 10-5 — their best one-month mark since going 13-4 in 2012.
Embiid missed his fifth game of six with a left knee bruise, what he had described as a bone bruise, prompting 76ers coach Brett Brown to admit, “I would be lying if I said it doesn’t rock our boat a little bit.”
A spectacular left-handed slam dunk by James Johnson in the final minute added an exclamation point to Miami’s eighth consecutive victory, a 104-96 triumph over the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Johnson leaped high to rebound a missed shot and slammed the ball home in one motion to pull Miami ahead by the final margin. Goran Dragic had 20 points and eight assists while Dion Waiters added 19 and nine assists and Johnson had 17 for the Heat, who improved to 19-30 while the Nets, with the worst defense in the NBA, slid to a league-worst 9-39 with a sixth consecutive defeat.
Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 27 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 23 points and 12 rebounds and Ricky Rubio had 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to spark the Minnesota Timberwolves over visiting Orlando 111-105 in overtime.
Wiggins sank a tying jumper with 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then scored six points in the extra session as the T-Wolves improved to 19-29 while the Magic, led by Elfrid Payton’s 21 points, slid to 19-31.
Memphis 115 PHOENIX 96
Dallas 104 Cleveland 97
Minnesota 111 Orlando 105 (OT)
Boston 113 Detroit 109
Miami 104 Brooklyn 96
Philadelphia 122 Sacramento 119
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