James 10th in NBA scoring; Cavs win
PHILADELPHIA — LeBron James scored 25 points, moving into 10th place on the NBA’s career list, and added 14 assists and eight rebounds as the unbeaten Cleveland Cavaliers held off the winless Philadelphia 76ers 102-101 on Saturday night.
Kevin Love added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the reigning champion Cavaliers, who improved to 6-0.
Joel Embiid scored 22 points, making all four of his 3-point attempts, but the 76ers dropped to 0-5.
James passed Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon by converting a fast-break layup midway through the first quarter. Olajuwon finished his career with 26,946 points.
It looked to be an easy night for the Cavaliers at that point. But the 76ers nearly shocked them.
Channing Frye’s 3-pointer with 1:05 left gave the Cavaliers a 102-101 lead.
After a turnover by Philadelphia’s Sergio Rodriguez, J.R. Smith missed a 3 with 15 seconds left that would’ve clinched it. Philadelphia coach Brett Brown then called a timeout with 7.3 seconds remaining. The 76ers were trying to get the ball to Embiid, but they couldn’t and Gerald Henderson turned the ball over as he tried to get a shot off in the final seconds.
He is No. 12 in scoring on the combined ABA/NBA list.
The 76ers remained one of three winless teams in the NBA, along with Dallas and New Orleans. Philadelphia opened last season by tying a league record with 18 straight losses. The 76ers have lost their last 42 games in October and November, dating to an overtime win over Milwaukee on Nov. 22, 2013.
Ersan Ilyasova, playing in his second game for Philadelphia after being acquired on Tuesday from Oklahoma City for Jerami Grant, added 21 points.
Philadelphia battled back from an 18-point, first-half deficit.
Jahlil Okafor scored six points as Philadelphia outscored Cleveland 16-9 over the first 5:50 of the final quarter, taking its biggest lead on Henderson’s short jumper that made it 96-91 with 6:10 remaining. Smith’s 3-pointer with 2:50 left put Cleveland back in front, 99-98. But Ilyasova answered with a 3-pointer 13 seconds later to give the 76ers a 101-99 advantage.
The 76ers trimmed their 11-point halftime deficit to two points four times in the final 2 ¢ minutes of the third quarter, the last coming with 4.8 seconds left when Embiid banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 82-80 entering the final quarter. It was Embiid’s fourth 3-pointer in four tries.
The Cavaliers used a 16-0 run to finish the first quarter, helping them to a 34-19 lead. James played all 12 minutes of the opening quarter, finishing with six points, four rebounds and seven assists.
With James resting for the first 7:05 of the second quarter, Philadelphia got as close as 47-44 before James ignited a 10-0 run with a one-handed dunk. Love’s 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining before halftime finished the spurt that gave Cleveland a 57-44 advantage. The Cavaliers held a 57-46 lead at halftime.
Cavaliers: Cleveland is off to its best start since the 1976-77 Cavaliers opened 8-0. It also is the best start for a James team. . Love went down hard with 6:47 left in the second quarter after a block attempt by Embiid. No foul was called on the play.
76ers: Former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was among the sell-out crowd. Two seats to his left were hip hop stars Nicki Minaj and rapper Meek Mill. . Philadelphia entered last in the league in scoring (90.8 ppg), while the Cavaliers were first (114.4).