CLEVELAND (AP) — Injuries and illnesses aren’t slowing down the Cleveland Cavaliers.
LeBron James scored 26 points while playing with a case of the flu that’s been going around the team, and the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for a 90-82 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving missed his second straight game because of tightness in his right hamstring as Cleveland dressed only 10 players.
Kevin Love scored 12 points with 11 rebounds despite playing only 24 minutes because of food poisoning. Coach Tyronn Lue said Love, who spent the final minutes in the locker room, lost 10 pounds in the last few days.
The defending NBA champions, who have won 13 of 15, managed to persevere despite the obstacles.
“As ugly as it was tonight, you have to find a way to get through it,” said James, who scored six straight points and blocked a shot over a late 1:47 stretch to seal the Cavaliers’ eight win in nine games.
After Buddy Hield hit two free throws to pull the Pelicans to 84-82 with 2:56 remaining, James went to work, hitting four foul shots and a jumper.
Anthony Davis scored 20 points with 17 rebounds for the Pelicans, whose four-game winning streak came to an end.
Cleveland erased a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter and took a 73-71 lead on a basket by rookie Kay Felder, who scored eight points in the fourth. Felder and Iman Shumpert each finished with 12 points while Channing Frye — another flu victim — scored 14.
“No excuses, no matter what’s going on with the team,” James said. “Has to be next man up. When a guy’s number is called he has to be ready to go.”
The Cavaliers were also without Mike Dunleavy (sprained right ankle), J.R. Smith (fractured right thumb) and Chris Andersen (torn ACL in right knee). The injuries and assortment of bugs caused Lue to cancel the team’s morning shoot-around.
James and Davis, who was scoreless in the fourth quarter, tumbled into the courtside seats chasing a loose ball late in the hotly-contested game. The Pelicans’ star blamed himself for the loss.
“When we need buckets, the team relies on me — and I didn’t deliver,” said Davis, who was 10 of 27 from the field. “We just have to make open shots, mainly myself. It’s on me. I’ve got to play better.”
James moved past Dominique Wilkins for 14th place on the all-time field goals made list (9,972).
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry knew his team missed out on a chance to come away with a win against a league power.
“We had the opportunity to come in and steal the game, but to beat the NBA champions, you’ve got to play 48 minutes,” he said. “You’ve got to seize the moment when you’re playing the NBA champions on the road.”
BIG NIGHT FOR THE ROOKIE
Felder was 6 of 11 in 22 minutes off the bench after scoring 13 points against Charlotte on Saturday.
“My confidence keeps rising the more minutes I play,” he said. “I like to go fast and we like to run so playing at that pace helps me out a lot.”
Pelicans: Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have seen their playing time cut with Davis moving to center. Asik hasn’t played in five straight games while Ajinca hasn’t seen action in the last four. … New Orleans plays five of its next six on the road.
Cavaliers: Dunleavy also missed his second straight game. … James’ late flurry helped the Cavs avoid their season low in points (85), set against Memphis last month when James, Irving and Love all sat out.
Pelicans: Host Atlanta on Thursday.
Cavaliers: Host Chicago on Wednesday. The Bulls won their lone meeting this season.