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Beasts of the East clash: Cavs prevail

BOSTON (AP) – LeBron James had 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Cleveland Cavaliers ran past the Boston Celtics 114-91 on Wednesday night to move back into first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

The teams had identical records entering their final regular-season matchup, but Cleveland (51-27) now has a one-game lead over Boston (50-28) with only four games to play. Cleveland also holds the tiebreaker with the Celtics for the top seed, if needed.

Kyrie Irving added 19 points and five assists.

The Cavaliers played without starting center Tristan Thompson, who was out with a sprained right thumb. But they performed without him, surging at the start of the second quarter and taking as much as a 29-point lead in the third.

They also outrebounded Boston 51-38.

PHOENIX – The NBA regular season belongs to the Golden State Warriors – again.

The high-speed Bay Area dynamo needed 42 points from Stephen Curry to hold off the pesky Phoenix Suns 120-111 Thursday night, a victory that ensured Golden State would have the best record in the NBA for the third straight season.

“Yeah, it’s impressive,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We have had a great run.’’

The Warriors won their season-best 13th straight game, all of them without the injured Kevin Durant.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Russell Westbrook fell a rebound short of an historic triple-double but scored 45 points, including a late 3-pointer that helped seal Oklahoma City’s victory over Memphis.

Westbrook’s 3-pointer – his eighth in the game – with 14 seconds left and two free throws in the final second gave the Thunder their second win in a row. Oklahoma City solidified its hold on the Western Conference’s sixth seed, holding a 3 1/2-game lead over the Grizzlies.

Westbrook had 10 assists and nine rebounds, leaving him tied with Oscar Robertson’s 55-year-old record for triple-doubles in a season with 41.

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Goran Dragic scored 33 points and Miami made 21 3-pointers to beat Charlotte and pull back into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan – Kyle Lowry had 27 points and 10 assists in his return from a wrist injury to help Toronto rally to beat Detroit.

Back in the lineup after missing 18 games, Lowry helped the Raptors overcome a 20-point first-half deficit. Toronto moved a half-game ahead of Washington for third place in the East.

HOUSTON – James Harden scored 31 points as Houston beat Denver to secure the third seed in the Western Conference.
The Nuggets cut the lead to two points on a layup by Nikola Jokic with 1:20 remaining. A 3-pointer by Harden a few seconds later pushed the lead to 106-101 and brought the crowd to its feet.

SAN ANTONIO – Tyler Ennis had 19 points in place of injured starter D’Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers never trailed against San Antonio.