LeBron James scored a game-high 20 points and added 11 rebounds with six assists on Sunday as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged Philadelphia 87-86 for their 16th consecutive home triumph.
Australian-born Kyrie Irving added 17 points, while Kevin Love had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who improved to 48-27 and stretched their Central division lead over Chicago to two-and-a-half games.
Russian big man Timofey Mozgov scored off a rebound for the last of his 14 points to give Cleveland an 87-83 lead with 4:03 remaining.
Robert Covington answered with a three-pointer for the 76ers six seconds later with what turned out to be the last of the game’s scoring.
From there, the 76ers missed their final five shots, four by Ish Smith, and four free throws as well, while the Cavaliers missed their final six shots, three of them by James.
Mozgov had 10 rebounds and Tristan Thompson grabbed nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have won five of their past six starts.
Covington led the 76ers with 19 points, but Philadelphia’s upset bid faltered on 4-of-10 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter. It was the Sixers fourth loss in five games, dropping them to 18-56, the third-worst record in the league.
The Cavaliers do not take the court again until Thursday, when they play host to James’ former club, the Miami Heat. Cleveland lost twice at Miami this season but beat the Heat at home last month.
James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 and led the Heat to the next four NBA Finals, capturing two titles. But James departed Miami last July and rejoined his home-region club, saying he wanted to lead the Cavaliers to their first NBA crown.