WASHINGTON -- Just in case there were any questions about Eastern Conference supremacy, LeBron James poured in 57 points -- the second-highest total of his career and an NBA-best this season -- to help the Cleveland Cavaliers end a four-game losing skid by beating the Washington Wizards 130-122 Friday night.
James hadn't scored this much since getting a career-high 61 for the Miami Heat on March 3, 2014, against the Charlotte Hornets.
And the four-time league MVP did it efficiently Friday, making 23 of 34 field-goal tries and all nine free throws, while adding 11 rebounds and seven assists. James did it with style, too. He hurdled over a seated Bradley Beal while dribbling, swatted a shot by John Wall off the backboard, and looked for a camera to wag both index fingers in the midst of a three-point play.
James didn't need much help, but teammates Derrick Rose (20 points) and Jae Crowder (17) each managed to top their season highs before the third quarter was done.
Cleveland finally looked like a team that has been to the NBA Finals three consecutive years, thanks in large part to James (see full recap).
Celtics ride 2nd-half surge to 7th straight win
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kyrie Irving scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half and the Boston Celtics rallied from 18 down to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-94 on Friday night for their seventh straight victory.
Al Horford scored 17 of his 20 points after halftime and Jaylen Brown added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics. Boston has allowed 94 or fewer points in every game during its winning streak.
Paul George had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook added 19 points and 11 assists for the Thunder. Carmelo Anthony had 10 points and 14 rebounds but shot just 3 of 17.
In a play that seemingly summarized the first half, Irving drove hard to the hoop in the closing seconds of the second quarter and went for a layup before Andre Roberson emphatically swatted it to the ground as time expired with the Thunder leading 55-37. Irving was 1 of 9 from the field before the break.
Boston chipped away at Oklahoma City's lead throughout the third quarter and cut it to a point. Irving had nine points in the period to help the Celtics shave their deficit to 71-67.
A 3-pointer by Semi Ojeleye with just under six minutes to play tied it at 79, and a 3-pointer by Horford put the Celtics ahead 82-79 (see full recap).
Lopez, Lakers spoil Russell’s LA return
LOS ANGELES -- Brook Lopez hit six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 34 points against his former Brooklyn teammates, and rookie Kyle Kuzma had 21 points and 13 rebounds during his first career start in the Los Angeles Lakers' 124-112 victory over the Nets on Friday night.
D'Angelo Russell had 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his first game against the Lakers since they traded him to Brooklyn last summer in the four-player deal that brought Lopez and Kuzma to Los Angeles.
Lopez, the leading scorer in Nets history, had 23 points in the second half and added 10 rebounds while the Lakers stayed comfortably ahead of Brooklyn, which has lost four straight. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points and Brandon Ingram had 18.
Allen Crabbe scored 25 points for the Nets in the opener of a five-game road trip, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 21.
Lopez had spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Nets before the trade, becoming the top scorer in franchise history while leading the Nets in scoring during each of the past five seasons. But the 7-foot North Hollywood native will be a free agent next summer, and Brooklyn shipped him home after he put up 20.5 points per game last season.
While most Staples Center fans paid attention to the still-popular Russell's return, Lopez calmly posted his biggest offensive game yet for his new team He hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter, and punctuated the performance with a series of ferocious dunks in the final minutes (see full recap).