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CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James scored 34 points, Kyrie Irving dropped 24 and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended a turbulent and troublesome March with an easy 122-105 win over the injury-weakened Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
James made 14 of 22 shots in 30 minutes as the Cavs ended a three-game losing streak and won for just the third time in eight games to end the month 7-10.
It’s been an alarming stretch for the NBA champions, who are running out of time to get tuned up for the postseason.
But against the lowly Sixers, Cleveland regained some of its swagger before heading into April when the real fun begins.
Kevin Love added 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Cavs won their ninth straight over the Sixers.
Richaun Holmes and rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 19 apiece for Philadelphia, which only dressed nine players after shutting down Jahlil Okafor and Robert Covington for the remainder of the season with knee injuries.
CELTICS 117, MAGIC 116
In Boston, Isaiah Thomas scored 35 points, Jae Crowder had 18 and the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Orlando Magic to maintain their slim lead over Cleveland atop the Eastern Conference.
Boston’s Al Horford made two free throws with 1:22 left for a one-point lead, and then Orlando missed three shots down the stretch, including a driving layup attempt by Elfrid Payton with two seconds left.
The Celtics (49-27) entered with a half-game lead over the Cavaliers, who won easily against Philadelphia to preserve that margin.
Horford and Jaylen Brown each scored 12 points, and Boston won for the fifth time in six games.
Aaron Gordon scored 20 of his 32 points in the first half and had 16 rebounds, while Evan Fournier scored 20 points for the Magic. Payton dished out a career-high 15 assists and flirted with a triple-double, getting 12 points and nine rebounds.