James leads depleted Cavs to NBA win over Pelicans
Los Angeles (AFP)
LeBron James scored 26 points to lead the injury-hit Cleveland Cavaliers to a narrow 90-82 home victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Channing Frye added 14 points off the bench for the NBA champion Cavaliers, who rallied for the win despite a tough shooting night.
Kevin Love scored 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds before departing for the locker room late in the fourth quarter because the Cavs said he was ill.
Love connected on just five of 19 shots from the floor and missed all seven of his three-point attempts.
Cleveland's starting backcourt of DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae combined to shoot just two of 10 in 34 minutes and neither played in the fourth quarter.
Overall the Cavaliers connected on just 37.8 percent of their shots -- one of their worst shooting nights of the season.
James connected on nine of 21 attempts, pulled down seven rebounds and handed out six assists.
But he struggled to get in a groove until the fourth quarter on a night that saw Kyrie Irving out for the second straight game with what the team calls "tightness" in his right hamstring.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue offered no timetable for Irving's return, after initially saying he didn't think the trouble would cost Irving any time.
The Cavs were stone-cold from three-point range, with not a single starter connecting from long distance.
Channing Frye made four three-pointers, reserve James Jones made one and Richard Jefferson another.
Lue inserted Jones in the game with 2:32 left in the third when his team trailed 65-61.
He provided a needed spark with his three-pointer, following with a forced turnover and an assist to James at the other end.
Rookie Kay Felder produced 12 points, eight in the fourth quarter, a key contribution as Cleveland erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to eke out the win.
Anthony Davis scored 20 points with 17 rebounds for the Pelicans. Rookie Buddy Hield added 20 points but New Orleans shot a season-worst 36.4 percent and saw their four-game winning streak end.
© 2017 AFP