LeBron James, Kevin Love carry Cleveland Cavaliers past Phoenix Suns

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 28, 2016 at 12:18 AM
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CLEVELAND -- He played 11 seasons in the NBA without an All-Star appearance, but it only took Tyronn Lue three games as a head coach to get there.

LeBron James had 21 points and nine assists and forward Kevin Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 115-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

The league made it official after the game: The Cavaliers' coaching staff will represent the Eastern Conference at the Feb. 14 NBA All-Star Game. Lue will coach the East despite being named Cavs coach just last week.

He is 2-1 as a head coach, but the Cavs built the best record in the East under David Blatt, who is now ineligible for the role after he was fired last Friday.

"It's a tribute to Coach Blatt and the players and the hard work the assistant coaches put in to get us to this point," Lue said. "It's going to be a great honor to represent the Cleveland Cavaliers and having a chance to do this, I know my coaches are excited, and I know it's going to be a surreal moment."

The team with the best record after Jan. 31 is selected and the Cavs clinched the best mark by the end of the month with Wednesday's win.

"He's won 66 percent of his games so far," Love joked. "I don't think it'll be his last time coaching the All-Star game. We're happy for him."

Rookie guard Devin Booker scored 16 points for the Suns, who have lost their last 12 road games and 16 of their last 18 games overall.

The Cavs scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to blow the game open. The Suns committed turnovers on four of their first five possessions in the quarter and went scoreless for the first three minutes of the second half, allowing the Cavs to open a 17-point lead.

"They sped us up at the beginning of the second half and we didn't handle it very well," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Turnovers are a killer against a good team."

Cleveland stretched the lead to 28 and was never threatened.

Guards J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving each had two steals in the third quarter and the Suns committed nine turnovers in the quarter -- nearly as many as they had in the first half (10).

Smith scored 18 points and center Timofey Mozgov had 10 off the bench. Irving finished with eight points, three assists and three turnovers.

Forward P.J. Tucker had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Suns. Forward Markieff Morris scored 13 points off the bench.

"I'm sick of moral victories," Suns center Tyson Chandler said after the Suns hung around for the first half. "We've got to try to put together 48 minutes at some point."

The win capped an emotional day for James, who earlier fired back at critics who have labeled him a coach killer.

"I think it does (stink) that people want to throw my name in dirt for no particular reason, because of speculation or whatever the case may be," James said. "But you can't worry about it too much. I got 14 guys here. I got a fan base here and a fan base all over the world that loves what I do and they respect what I do and I can't worry about a select group of people that want to use their negative energy to take away my positive energy. I can't allow that to happen."

James has taken the brunt of the blame for Blatt's firing, but he insisted Wednesday he wasn't going to stop offering his opinions when they matter.

"People get it so misconstrued because I'm a smart basketball player and I've voiced my opinion about certain things," he said. "What do you guys want me to do? Turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ? If that's what they want me to do, I'm not going to do it because I've got so much to give to the game."

James was in a better mood by the end of the night. The scoreboard caught him dancing to the 1980s hit song "Super Freak" during a timeout late in the game.

He had nothing better to do because he didn't play in the fourth quarter of the blowout.

NOTES: The Cavs officially added assistant coach Mike Longabardi to their staff prior to the game. Longabardi, who will assist Lue with the defense, was coincidentally fired by the Suns last month in a staff shakeup. ... Tristan Thompson and

Timofey Mozgov have shared the starting center job, but coach Tyronn Lue said he's sticking with Thompson moving forward because he plays better as a starter. ... Suns rookie G Devin Booker was left off the Rising Stars rosters despite leading all rookies in 3-point percentage. Booker, 19, is the youngest player in the league. ... Suns F Jon Leuer missed his fifth consecutive game with back spasms. He could return Friday at New York.

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