Love-less Cavaliers fall to Mavericks
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.
Celtics beat Pistons
Isaiah Thomas, the NBA’s top fourth-quarter scorer, netted 24 of his 41 points in the last period to lift the Boston Celtics over Detroit 113-109 despite squandering an 11-point lead.
Thomas completed a three-point play to put the Celtics ahead to stay with 4:13 remaining as Boston improved to 30-18 and moved a game ahead of Toronto atop the Atlantic division. His 32nd consecutive game with 20 or more points in only eight shy of John Havlicek’s team-record 40.
Pistons big man Andre Drummond had a season high-tying 28 points and 22 rebounds in a losing effort.
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.