LeBron James scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and brought Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 17-point deficit to stun the Washington Wizards 119-115 on Thursday night and maintain the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs trailed 104-87 with 7:35 left before storming back behind James, who added 14 assists, nine rebounds to give coach Tyronn Lue a win in his return after missing nine games due to health reasons.
Jeff Green added 21 points and Kevin Love had 16 for the Cavs, who are 10-1 since March 17, when Lue was forced to leave a game in Chicago with “piercing” chest pains.
It took another of those patented James’ comebacks to down the Wizards, who have dropped seven of nine and are in a three-way battle with Milwaukee and Miami for playoff positioning.
Washington’s John Wall looked more like his speedy All-Star self in his third game back from knee surgery, scoring 28 points with 14 assists. But he had a costly turnover in the closing seconds and the Wizards couldn’t put away the Cavs down the stretch.
A basket by Markieff Morris gave the Wizards a 110-100 lead with 3:16 left, but James scored six straight, fed Green for layup, and Rodney Hood made two free throws to complete a 10-0 run by the Cavs.
Green’s two free throws — on a tough call against Washington — gave the Cavs a 116-115 lead, but after Walls missed a short jumper, James split a pair of three throws, giving Washington one last chance.
Wall drove the lane but his twisting pass back outside was stolen by rookie Cedi Osman, who made two free throws to close it out.
at Houston 96, Portland 94: Chris Paul hit an off-balance layup with 0.8 seconds left to lift Houston past Portland.
Paul scored 27 points to help Houston get its second straight victory since a loss to San Antonio. The Rockets swept their four-game season series with Portland.
Portland’s Damian Lillard sat out after spraining his left ankle Tuesday against Dallas.
The Rockets led by 24 in the second quarter and still had a big lead with about five minutes left before the Trail Blazers went on a 19-2 run to tie it at 94-all with 6.1 seconds left.
James Harden, who finished with 24 points, missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds left before Pat Connaughton tied it with a short basket.
Paul made the winner before crashing to the court. It gave Houston its first points since Harden made a basket with just less than four minutes left. Portland had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but C.J. McCollum’s 3-point attempt was off. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 16 points.
at Indianapolis 126, Golden State 106: Bojan Bogdanovic had 28 points, Victor Oladipo scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and the playoff-bound Indiana beat Golden State.
The Pacers have won six of seven, including twice against the short-handed defending NBA champions. It’s their first season sweep over the Warriors since 2011-12.
Kevin Durant had 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists, but Golden State’s three-game winning streak ended. Klay Thompson had 16 points before being shut out in the second half. The Warriors were swept by an Eastern Conference team for the first time since Charlotte did it in 2013-14.
Brooklyn 119, at Milwaukee 111: Allen Crabbe scored 25 points and hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes of a tight game, and Brooklyn Nets shot 48 percent from behind the arc to beat Milwaukee.
The sharpshooting Nets were 19 of 39 from 3-point range, dealing a blow to the Bucks’ hopes of moving up from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Crabbe was clutch by hitting two of his five 3s over the final three minutes, the second coming with 1:18 left to give the Nets a six-point lead that sent Bucks fans to the exits.
Khris Middleton scored 31 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee.
at Denver 100, Minnesota 96: Jamal Murray had 22 points to lead six Denver players in double figures, Nikola Jokic wrapped things up with a late tip-in and the Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-96 in a pivotal matchup between teams vying for a playoff spot.
The victory moved Denver (44-35) into a tie, record-wise, with Minnesota for the eighth spot with three games remaining. Both are a half-game behind New Orleans.
Jokic finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while reserve Devin Harris added 20 for the Nuggets. The playoff jockeying between these two teams could go down to the wire with Minnesota hosting Denver in the regular season finale on Wednesday.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out with 1:46 remaining.
at Utah 117, CLIPPERS 95