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Cavs Notes

Fantastic February: LeBron James averages triple-double for the month, needs another to help Cavaliers hold off pesky Nets

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    The Nets' D'Angelo Russell, left, and the Cavaliers' Kyle Korver reach for a loose ball during the second half Tuesday in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 129-123.



CLEVELAND — LeBron James posted his 12th triple-double of the season while averaging one for the month of February.

The Cavaliers needed everything he gave them — and great offensive contributions from a number of others — to defeat the lowly Brooklyn Nets 129-123 Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

James finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists and averaged 27.0, 10.5 and 10.5 for February, the first time in his 15-year career he’s averaged a triple-double for a month.

“It’s a first,” said the 33-year-old, who also has a chance to play in all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career. “Just playing some good ball. The most consistent thing for me right now is I’m out there available for my teammates every night.”

With his final assist, James reached 8,000 for his career, making him the first player in league history to have 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists.

“Wow,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s a hell of an achievement.”

James, who also tied Michael Jordan for fourth all time with his 926th 20-point game, often brushes aside career milestones, but he took great pleasure in being the only member of the 30,000-8,000-8,000 club.

“With the long list of the many great players who have come through this league, for me to be the ‘only’ in a category, I think it’s pretty cool,” he said.

The Cavs (36-24), who had lost two straight at home, improved their chances of getting a high lottery pick by downing the Nets (20-42), who traded their first-round pick to Cleveland and began the night with the seventh-worst record in the league, just 2 1/2 games better than the worst team.

It took some great offensive performances, because the Cavs struggled all night to stop the Nets, who put up quarter scoring totals of 29, 32, 30 and 32 points while having seven players score in double figures.

Cleveland, though, closed with quarters of 35, 34 and 35, with Kyle Korver finishing with 18 points and Tristan Thompson pulling down 13 rebounds.

More than anything, though, it was the play of newcomers George Hill (season-high 26 points), Rodney Hood (14), Jordan Clarkson (14) and Larry Nance Jr. (10, 10 rebounds) that helped James carry the Cavs to victory.

“I know he’s a great player,” Clarkson said of James. “He’s going to make plays for us, but we’ve got to be there to support him.”

In a game that featured nine ties and 25 lead chances, the teams combined to score on nine straight possessions down the stretch.

Included in the final minutes were a Nance 15-footer, a Clarkson three, two Hill free throws and a Hood three-point play that put Cleveland ahead for good.

“I just can’t wait for play calls,” said Hood, who had been passive in previous games. “I’ve got to go out there and let my presence and aggressiveness take over.”

Hood’s baseline 13-footer and subsequent free throw put Cleveland up 123-121 with 40.2 seconds to go before the Nets finally blinked.

Trapped in the corner with the shot clock winding down, D’Angelo Russell (25 points, five rebounds, six assists) flung the ball in the direction of the basket in an attempt to draw a foul, but it only got about halfway there.

That led to two James free throws with 16.9 ticks on the clock and the Cavs, who were below .500 from the line for most of the night, iced things by making four more to finish 17-for-27.

“We had contributions all over the place, especially from our bench,” James said. “They’re the reason we won the game.”

Hill, a starter who scored 14 points in the third period to help put the Cavs up 94-91, also contributed in a big way.

“I was just trying to find that rhythm and that balance,” the 31-year-old said. “It was a we-need-to-win situation.”

The Cavs didn’t play particularly well in falling behind 61-60 at halftime, and they would have been in a heap of hurt were it not for Korver, who came off the bench to score 14 points and make four 3-pointers in the second quarter.

Most of Korver’s points came at the expense of former Cavs swingman Joe Harris, but the Nets stayed ahead by making 18 of 24 free throws in the first half compared to Cleveland’s 2-for-7.

The Cavs turned that around in the second half, going 15-for-20 to Brooklyn’s 5-for-6.

“We’re not close to being exactly where we need to be,” James said, “but I like the direction we’re heading in.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

Cavaliers 129, Nets 123

BROOKLYN (123): Crabbe 5-12 3-4 13, Carroll 6-10 1-3 16, Allen 4-8 5-6 13, Dinwiddie 5-9 0-0 11, Russell 9-18 4-5 25, Cunningham 3-5 0-0 8, Hollis-Jefferson 4-7 6-8 14, Acy 0-1 0-0 0, LeVert 6-9 4-4 18, Harris 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 44-82 23-30 123.

CLEVELAND (129): James 13-25 3-3 31, Osman 3-4 0-0 7, Thompson 2-5 1-5 5, Hill 9-17 5-8 26, Smith 2-9 0-0 4, Nance Jr. 4-5 2-2 10, Holland 0-0 0-0 0, Clarkson 5-10 2-4 14, Korver 6-11 2-2 18, Hood 6-11 2-3 14. Totals 50-97 17-27 129.

Brooklyn   29 32 30 32 — 123
Cleveland 25 35 34 35 — 129

3-Point Goals—Brooklyn 12-32 (Carroll 3-5, Russell 3-8, Cunningham 2-2, LeVert 2-3, Harris 1-2, Dinwiddie 1-4, Hollis-Jefferson 0-1, Acy 0-1, Crabbe 0-6), Cleveland 12-24 (Korver 4-7, Hill 3-4, James 2-4, Clarkson 2-4, Osman 1-1, Hood 0-1, Smith 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Brooklyn 36 (Hollis-Jefferson 7), Cleveland 55 (Thompson 13). Assists—Brooklyn 29 (Dinwiddie 11), Cleveland 24 (James 11). Total Fouls—Brooklyn 21, Cleveland 24. A—20,562 (20,562).

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