LeBron James’s 70th career triple-double propelled the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers to a 114-109 NBA victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, when the injury-plagued Golden State Warriors also pulled off a win.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James was once again the difference for the Cavs, who travelled to Chicago without Kevin Love, Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance Jr, Cedi Osman and Tristan Thompson.
Thanks largely to him Cleveland finished their six-game road trip 3-3.
“For us to go 3-3 throughout everything as far as the injuries and available guys, I think it was a good trip for us,” James said.
Coach Tyronn Lue also missed the second half of Saturday’s game because of an undisclosed illness, but the Cavs – who led 69-52 at half-time – fended off the Bulls’ late challenge to secure the win.
Trailing 85-81 going into the fourth period, Chicago tied the score twice in the final frame.
James’s jump shot over Paul Zipser with 39 seconds left put the Cavs up by six, and on the Bulls’ ensuing possession he rejected Cameron Payne’s shot.
James finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and became only the sixth player to notch 70 triple-doubles in his career.
For a Warriors team missing stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson along with Patrick McCaw and Omri Casspi, it was Quinn Cook and Kevon Looney who stepped up in a 124-109 victory over the Suns in Phoenix.
Cook led the Warriors with a career-high 28 points. Looney posted career-highs of 13 points and six blocked shots, and Draymond Green came within two assists of a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the Warriors bounced back from a loss to Sacramento on Friday.
Seven players scored in double-figures for Golden State, who trailed by 15 points in the second quarter but outscored the Suns 72-49 in the second half.
The Warriors, seeking their third title in four seasons, are two and a half games behind the Western Conference leading Houston Rockets, who beat the Pelicans 107-101 in New Orleans.
James Harden scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as the Rockets notched their 21st win in 22 games.
Chris Paul added 21 points and Clint Capela chipped in 13 with 11 rebounds for Houston.
Against a Pelicans team fighting for their playoff lives, Harden drained a 3-pointer that put the Rockets up by nine with 1:31 remaining.
Harden’s 11 fourth-quarter points included four from the free-throw line, and Rockets coach Alvin Gentry was angry at what he said was a disparity in foul calls.
Gentry said Pelicans star Anthony Davis “never gets a call”.
“We talked about them holding him, we talked about them grabbing him on rolls. We talked about them coming under him on post up – he never gets a call,” said Gentry, who was whistled for a technical foul with 5:39 for disputing a foul called on Jrue Holiday.
Davis, with 26 points and 13 rebounds, paced the Pelicans, who are fighting for their playoff lives in the West after losing four of their last five games.
Trail Blazers win 12th straight
The Portland Trail Blazers strengthened their grip on third place in the West with a 12th straight victory, 100-87 over the Detroit Pistons.
The San Antonio Spurs bolstered their bid to extend their run of 20 straight seasons in the playoffs with a 117-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Veteran forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 39 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who won their third straight.
The Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, and Utah Jazz all fighting for playoff spots, also won.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points to lead the Wizards in a 109-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers, a victory that could prove key if the Eastern Conference rivals finish the season with matching records as they have now.