Los Angeles: Cleveland star LeBron James scored 32 points -- and became the youngest player to score 28,000 in an NBA career -- as the Cavaliers downed the New York Knicks 111-104 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
James, 32, took his career points tally to 28,020, good for eighth on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He reached the milestone with a step-back jumper that gave the Cavaliers a 45-31 lead with 6:49 left in the second quarter.
He also handed out 10 assists, and with two more will pass Lenny Wilkens (7,211) for 13th on the career list. The NBA champion Cavaliers were without guard Kyrie Irving, who sat out with soreness in his right quadriceps. Deandre Liggins started in his place, scoring five points without an assist.
Kevin Love returned to the Cavs lineup after missing two games with back spasms. He contributed 23 points and 15 rebounds as Cleveland took their Eastern Conference-leading record to 34-15. "He (Love) has been playing like this all season before he ran into these injuries and had the food poisoning where he lost some weight," said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. "He came to play every single night, so that's no surprise to me."
The Knicks fell to 22-30. They haven't won two straight games since December 20-22.
Brandon Jennings paced New York with 23 points and 10 assists. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, the subject of persistent trade rumors, scored 17 points but connected on just six of 21 from the floor.
Love, whose name keeps cropping up as a player the Knicks might want for Anthony, said he was trying to ignore the trade talk. "I don't really think about it," he said. "I do look at my phone, but it's not like that really crosses my mind -- or that's not what's top of my mind at all."
The Knicks were without point guard Derrick Rose, sidelined for a fourth straight game by a sprained left ankle. And starting center Joakim Noah departed early with a sore left hamstring. New York showed signs of life late, scoring six straight points to trim Cleveland's lead to 106-101 with 59 seconds remaining. But James found Love for an uncontested three-pointer as the Cavs pulled away again.
"When we tried to make our run it was a little too late," Jennings said. "We couldn't make stops and LeBron was able to find guys. It seemed like everything we were trying, they would hit a big three or something."