ORLANDO, FLORIDA – After another embarrassing defeat and two days before the trade deadline, LeBron James let it be known he’s not going anywhere, at least for now.
“I’m here for this season right now to try and figure out a way we can still compete,” James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 21-point lead in a 116-98 loss to the Orlando Magic. “I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
The Cavaliers fell apart in the second half and lost for the 14th time in 21 games. They have given up an average of 122.4 points in their last five losses.
“I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I just couldn’t do it,” James said after scoring 25 points. “We put too much into the game every single day.
“This is no time to be ashamed about our season,” he added. “We’ve got quite a few games left. If we’re still serious about the season, then we’ve got to play some good ball at some point.”
Jonathon Simmons scored 22 of his career-high 34 points in the third quarter for the Magic, who broke a nine-game home-court losing streak against Cleveland.
The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the first quarter, but then went almost 6½ minutes without scoring in the fourth. They played the second half without coach Tyronn Lue, who went to the locker room in the second quarter with what the team said was an illness.
The Magic made their first 10 shots of the second half and won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 8-10.
James did not have a rebound or an assist in a foul-plagued second half.
“I gave my teammates some opportunities to knock ’em down, but they just didn’t go. You can’t get assists when they don’t go down, but that doesn’t stop me from finding my guys on the floor,” he said. “At this point it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. We’ve got to go out and play well as a collective group, everyone hitting at the right time on all cylinders, and right now we’re not doing that.”
Simmons made seven of eight shots in his 22-point quarter, finishing the period with a 3-point buzzer shot in a game in which he almost did not play because of a sprained right ankle.
“To be honest, adrenaline was just going and I didn’t even realize what was going on,” Simmons said. “I was just trying to play hard and trying not to have another setback.”
Knicks 103, Bucks 89
In New York, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points, jumping over Tim Hardaway Jr. for one high-flying slam, and the Milwaukee beat the Knicks after Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis tore his left ACL.
Porzingis was injured after crashing to the ground following a successful dunk with 8:46 left in the second quarter. He was taken for an MRI exam that revealed the injury.
Thunder 125, Warriors 105
In Oakland, Russell Westbrook had 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to get the better of old buddy and teammate Kevin Durant, Paul George scored 38 points, and Oklahoma City embarrassed the defending champion Warriors to snap a four-game losing streak.
Durant scored 33 points but didn’t get as much help from the cold-shooting Splash Brothers of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who added 21 and 12 points, respectively. They combined to go 11 of 27 from the floor and 4-for-15 on 3-pointers as the Warriors lost for the third time in four games.
Raptors 111, Celtics 91
In Toronto, Kyle Lowry scored 23 points, C.J. Miles had 20 and the Raptors snapped Boston’s four-game winning streak.
DeMar DeRozan added 15 points, Delon Wright had 14 and Fred VanVleet 10 as Toronto won its fifth straight home meeting over the Celtics, closing to within a game of conference-leading Boston.
Rockets 123, Nets 113
In New York, James Harden scored 36 points, surpassing 15,000 for his career, and Houston beat Brooklyn for its fifth straight victory.
Chris Paul added 25 points for the Rockets, who kept right on rolling in their first game since their nationally televised romp in Cleveland on Saturday.
76ers 115, Wizards 102
In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds, and the 76ers helped the city of Philadelphia continue to celebrate by leading from start to finish in a victory over Washington.
Dario Saric added 20 points and J.J. Redick had 18 for the 76ers, who snapped the Wizards’ five-game winning streak while playing in front of a raucous crowd still in a tizzy over the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
Hawks 108, Grizzlies 82
In Atlanta, Dennis Schroder scored 22 points and the Hawks beat turnover-plagued Memphis, giving the struggling Grizzlies their fourth straight loss.
Schroder, who sat out the final period, had five assists. Rookie John Collins had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lakers 112, Suns 93
In Los Angeles, Brandon Ingram scored 26 points, Julius Randle added 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and the Lakers beat Phoenix.
Los Angeles pulled away in the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter, using a 15-3 run after leading 97-90.