WASHINGTON (AFP) – Caris LeVert scored Cleveland’s last 10 points in overtime and sparked the Cavaliers to a 132-123 NBA victory at Boston on Friday.
LeVert and Donovan Mitchell each scored a game-high 41 points as the Cavaliers improved to 4-1 while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum each had 32 to lead the Celtics.
“I knew it was coming,” LeVert said of his big night. “I put in a lot of work. I was due for this. We’re having so much fun out here. We can’t wait to keep doing it.”
It was only the second time the Cavs had two 40-point scorers in a game, the other time by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in game five of the 2016 NBA Finals, which Cleveland won in seven games.
Brown’s overtime dunk lifted Boston level at 121-121, but LeVert answered with a 3-pointer and two free throws and, after Brown sank two free throws, LeVert added two free throws of his own and closed out matters on a 4-point play with 32.2 seconds to go, making a free throw after a flagrant foul by Malcolm Brogdon.
“He did it all. He literally carried us,” Mitchell said. “He led us from the start. We fed off that.”
After trailing by as many as 15 points, LeVert’s 3-pointer put Cleveland ahead 113-112 in regulation. A Brown basket put Boston ahead 114-113 with 28 seconds remaining, only for Jarrett Allen to sink a free throw that led to overtime.
“For us to have the perseverance as a group… that was big time,” said Mitchell. “For us to have a collective solidarity this early in the season as a group, that’s going to take us far. Wins like this are huge.”
LeVert said referee calls in the first half disrupted the Cavs’ rhythm.
“We kind of let the refs get in our heads,” LeVert said. “In the second half we were a lot more physical. We lived with some of the foul calls and we just fought.”
The Milwaukee Bucks remained the NBA’s only undefeated team, improving to 4-0 with a 119-108 home victory over the New York Knicks.
Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo had game highs of 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Bucks, who had seven scorers in double figures.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Lakers fell to 0-5 to start the season with a 111-102 loss at Minnesota.
It’s just the second time the Lakers have gone 0-5 to start a season since they moved to Los Angeles. They also lost the first five games of the 2014-15 campaign before finishing 21-61.
The Timberwolves were led by a game-high 29 points from Anthony Edwards plus 22 points and 21 rebounds by Rudy Gobert.
James had 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, the defeat taking the shine off his move past Karl Malone to top the list of most games with 20 or more points with 1,135.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said his team’s 22 turnovers, leading to 25 Minnesota points, were too much to overcome.
“When you give them 22 turnovers, 25 points, it’s very hard to win in this league,” Ham said.
“We have to do a better job of valuing possessions.”
James said the Lakers’ offence “is harming us right now.
“Defensively, once again, we had a great game plan,” he said. “We went out and competed, gave ourself a chance.”
Elsewhere, Tyrese Maxey scored a career-high 44 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 112-90 triumph at Toronto.
Maxey had two more points than the Raptors managed in the entire second half, propelling the Sixers to victory despite the absence of star center Joel Embiid because of a sore knee.
In Phoenix, the Suns cruised past the New Orleans Pelicans 124-111, furled by 27 points from Mikal Bridges. Portland shook off the absence of Damian Lillard, sidelined by a sore calf, to beat the Houston Rockets 125-111.
Keldon Johnson’s 33 points led San Antonio over visiting Chicago 129-124 despite 33 by the Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, who became the 50th NBA player to score 20,000 points in his career.
The Orlando Magic won for the first time in six games this season as 19-year-old Paolo Banchero, the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft, had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and reserve Mo Bamba added 19 points in a 113-93 home victory over Charlotte.