CLEVELAND (Reuters) - LeBron James put up 32 points and 13 assists to propel the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 115-106 win over the Orlando Magic Thursday, matching a franchise record 13th successive victory.
The league’s reigning MVP spearheaded the fourth-quarter surge which decided the game.
The Cavaliers trailed by two with 7:31 left before James scored or assisted on five straight baskets during an 11-0 run that sunk the Magic.
Cleveland (43-11) matched the win streak it set last season while winning a second straight against Orlando (36-18) in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
“It’s definitely fun when you get one of the best teams in your house or when you play against one of the best teams,” James told reporters.
“You want to try to see where you match up and you want to see if that winning streak is really valid. It was a great game by both teams.”
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 11 rebounds while Rashard Lewis added 19 for the Magic, who trailed for the majority of the first half before turning the game into a nip-and-tuck affair.
Orlando topped the Cavaliers 4-2 in the best-of-seven playoff series last May but currently trail their NBA-best foe by seven games.
Personnel changes to both teams this season have altered the match-up. With 7-footer Shaquille O’Neal in the middle, Cleveland has a presence to contend with Howard.
The two big men have developed a bit of a contentious rivalry.
O’Neal was in foul trouble for most of the night and tallied just 10 points but young forward J.J. Hickson had a breakout game with 20.
Guard Delonte West also gave the team a boost in his return to action after being sidelined for nine games with injury.
“Delonte was terrific. He did a nice job running the team,” said Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. “He hit some big buckets to keep us in the game when it was close.”
The Magic fell behind by 14 points in the first quarter but lit up the scoreboard for 40 in the second to draw close. Orlando led by as much as seven in the third but the lead quickly evaporated with a string of Cleveland three-pointers.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Alastair Himmer
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