Cavs stay perfect, defeat Celtics
CLEVELAND — LeBron James scored a season-high 30 points and the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers stayed undefeated, beating the Boston Celtics 128-122 on Thursday night.
James moved within two points of passing Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Olajuwon had 26,946 points, a total James will likely surpass Saturday night in Philadelphia.
The Cavaliers are 5-0 for the first time since 1976-77 when they started 8-0.
Kevin Love scored 26 points, also a season high, while Kyrie Irving added 23 for the Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson recorded a double-double in the first half, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points and Avery Bradley had 26 for the Celtics, who played without two starters, center Al Horford (concussion) and forward Jae Crowder (sprained left ankle).
Boston cut a 20-point deficit to 109-104 midway through the fourth quarter, but baskets by James and Love pushed the lead to nine.
James, who was 12 of 22 from the field, scored 20 points in the third quarter after having six at halftime. He also had 12 assists and seven rebounds, and brought the crowd to its feet in the third quarter on a fast break drunk after Irving passed the ball off the backboard.
The Celtics played the Cavaliers evenly for most of the first quarter, but Cleveland’s ball movement led to a flurry of open shots. The Cavaliers made 11 of 18 3-point attempts in the first half.
Cleveland also matched the best start for a team James has played on since the Miami Heat were 5-0 in 2011-12 when they swept Oklahoma City in the Finals.
Thomas didn’t miss a free throw in 14 attempts. Jaylen Brown scored 19 points while Marcus Smart added 14 for Boston.
Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said Horford is feeling better but has no timetable for his return. … Crowder is expected to miss two weeks after being injured in Wednesday’s win over Chicago.
Cavaliers: Love was 12 of 13 at the free throw line. … Cleveland didn’t commit a first-quarter turnover. … G. J.R. Smith crashed to the court after running into a screen from F Jonas Jerebko, but was still called for the foul.
Celtics: Host Denver on Sunday. Bradley averaged 23.5 points in two games against the Nuggets last season.
Cavaliers: Visit Philadelphia on Saturday. Cleveland has won six straight games over the 76ers, two on the road.