LeBron James delivers as Cavaliers breeze past Bucks
21 Oct 2017 - 15:53
Los Angeles: LeBron James has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring 24 points and dishing out eight assists on Friday as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 116-97.
The four-time NBA most valuable player led the Cavaliers in scoring for the second straight game despite missing most of the pre-season with an injury.
When James started the season he knew it was going to take time to fully recover from a sprained left ankle that limited him to just one pre-season game.
He played 37 minutes and drained 10 of 16 shots on Friday in front of a crowd of 18,700 at Milwaukee's Bradley Center arena.
"I felt better tonight than I did after game one," said James who scored a team high 29 points in a season-opening win over Boston on Tuesday.
"Each game is going to be another opportunity for me to get into game shape," he added. "Today I am still not where I want to be."
Don't tell that to the Bucks, who also had to contend with Kevin Love's second double-double of the season.
Love finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Kyle Korver tallied 17, hitting five-of-six three pointers.
"This is a huge win as a team," said James.
James injured his ankle after stepping on the foot of rookie forward Cedi Osman during practice on September 27.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 34 points on 15-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists for Milwaukee, who lost their home opener and dropped to 1-1 on the season.
James said the Cavs stuck to their game plan, setting the tone early on defence before getting the offence "popping".
"We know Giannis is going to get his. But we made them make multiple passes, multiple triple drives. We defended.
"And then offensively in the second half we started to get that ball popping and had their defence off balance."
Elsewhere, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for 68 points as the Golden State Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 128-120 in a shootout at the Smoothie King Center arena.
The Warriors charged back after allowing 39 points in the opening quarter to the Pelicans who could not maintain that scoring pace.
Curry and Thompson each finished with 23 points as the Warriors recovered from a season-opening loss to Houston. Durant had a career-high seven blocks.
"I just tried to use my length," said Durant. "Steph and Klay had it going on the offensive end so I tried to use my defence.
"The last three quarters we got settled in."
The Pelicans made eight eight-pointers in the first quarter and led 39-26.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 32 points and 16 rebounds.
Elsewhere, Kemba Walker scored 26 points and Dwight Howard burned his former team for 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets rallied from a 20-point deficit to storm past the Atlanta Hawks 109-91.
The Hornets trailed 40-20 with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter, but closed the gap to 56-49 at halftime. They dominated the second half, starting with a 24-0 run in the third quarter. They outscored Atlanta 35-17 in the period.
In Indianapolis, C.J. McCollum returned from a one-game suspension to score 28 points as the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 2-0 on the road to open the season with a 114-96 win over the Indiana Pacers.