LeBron plays point, scores 34 as Cavs beat Bulls 119-112
CLEVELAND — LeBron James scored 34 points in a rare start at point guard and the Cleveland Cavaliers, using another early season lineup, awakened after a sluggish first half and beat the Chicago Bulls 119-112 on Tuesday night.
Although he often handles the ball and runs Cleveland’s offense, James had not officially been listed as a guard since 2012 with Miami. He added 13 assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Jae Crowder for a 3-pointer during Cleveland’s 15-3 spurt in the third quarter.
Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade, who asked Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to take him out of the starting lineup, came off the bench and added 11 points.
Justin Holiday scored 25 and rookie Lauri Markkanen 19 for Chicago, which made a season-high 17 3-pointers. The 7-foot Markkanen became the first player in NBA history to make 10 3-pointers in his first three career games.
Cleveland trailed 92-91 entering the fourth before Love dropped a 3 and Kyle Korver made a pair of 3s in 33 seconds. Chicago closed within six in the final two minutes, but the Cavs came up with two offensive rebounds to reset the shot clock before James took Markkanen to the hole and dropped a left-handed layup to make it 118-110.
The Cavs were coming off an embarrassing loss to Orlando and their defense was atrocious in the first half, when the Bulls made 12 3-pointers and scored 65 points — 12 less than in their previous game.
Lue has been experimenting with lineups and combinations because of new players and injuries. He trotted out another new starting five — his third in three games — against the Bulls, moving James from small forward to the point, and starting Tristan Thompson at center so Love wouldn’t have to guard 7-foot-1 Robin Lopez the entire game.
But Cleveland’s starters let Chicago control things early. The Bulls ran to a 14-point lead before the second group — led by Wade and Jeff Green — got the Cavs back in it. Green finished with 16 points.
Bulls: Chicago came within one 3-pointer of matching the club record set on March 12, 2011. … Lopez banked in his second career 3-pointer as the shot clock expired in the first quarter. Lopez made his first career 3 on Saturday against San Antonio. … Coach Fred Hoiberg said G Kris Dunn (dislocated left finger) experienced pain and swelling after practicing Monday. The Bulls hope Dunn will be available to play Thursday. He was injured in an Oct. 6 preseason game. … Former Cavs point guard Kay Felder, picked up on waivers from Atlanta before the season, scored 13 points in 15 minutes.
Cavaliers: Snapped a five-game losing streak to Chicago. … Starting PG Derrick Rose missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. … James played in his 771st regular-season game, matching center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for the most in franchise history. … On Monday, Lue said Jose Calderon would start at point with Rose out. Calderon started and played just five minutes against the Magic before Lue pulled him.
Bulls: Host Atlanta on Thursday.
Cavaliers: Hit the road at Brooklyn on Wednesday night before playing at New Orleans on Friday. Cleveland has won four straight over the Nets.