Kevin Love scored 32 of his 38 points in the first half, LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his career and the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their longest winning streak since 2015 to nine games by beating the Miami Heat 108-97 on Tuesday night.
James added 21 points before he was slapped with two technical fouls for arguing for a foul and tossed with 1:59 left in the third quarter and the Cavs leading by 23. It was the first time James was thrown out in 1,082 games.
“On that particular play I got fouled all the way up the court, from the time that I stripped him [James Johnson] all the way until I got to the rim, and so that’s what it’s about,” James said. “I said what I had to say and I moved on, but he [the ref] thought that I should get two of them.
“I’m one of the league leaders in points in the paint. I drive just as much as anybody. At this point, it’s almost like they’re trying to turn me into a jump shooter. I can’t be a jump shooter.”
Referee Kane Fitzgerald said he couldn’t let James’ actions slide.
“It was a culmination of a couple different acts,” he told a pool reporter. “Immediately after the no-call, he turned and threw an air punch directly at me and then he aggressively charged at me and then he used vulgarity in my ear a few times.”
Washington 92, at Minnesota 89: Otto Porter Jr. hit a 22-foot jumper with 25 seconds left to cap the Wizards’ fourth-quarter rally. Porter led Washington with 22 points. The Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 15 rebounds for his league-leading 18th double-double.
at Utah 106, Denver 77: Derrick Favors scored 24 points, and the Jazz outscored the Nuggets 58-28 in the second half to match a season high with their third straight victory. Gary Harris scored 14 of his 18 points for Denver in the first half.
Milwaukee 112, at Sacramento 87: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 of his 32 points in the third quarter and Eric Bledsoe had 21.
Phoenix 104, at Chicago 99: Devin Booker scored 33 points with nine rebounds in his return after missing a game, T.J. Warren added 25 and Alex Len tied a career high with 18 rebounds as the Suns handed the rebuilding Bulls their sixth straight loss to drop them to a league-worst 3-16. Justin Holiday had 25 points for Chicago; Kris Dunn added 24 and eight assists.