CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 26 points 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. Cleveland dressed only 10 players thanks to a rash of recent injuries.
After Buddy Hield hit two free throws to pull the Pelicans to 84-82 with 2:56 remaining, James scored six straight points and blocked a shot over a 1:47 stretch to seal the Cavaliers’ eight win in nine games.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love had 12 points and 11 rebounds despite playing only 24 minutes. Channing Frye added 14 points for the defending NBA champions, who have won 13 of 15.
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.
James and Davis tumbled into the courtside seats chasing a loose ball late in the hotly-contested game.
Cleveland was 6 of 26 from the field and missed all 10 of its 3-point attempts in the first quarter, which ended with New Orleans leading 22-15. The Cavaliers shot 34 for 90 from the field for the game.
The Cavaliers were also without Mike Dunleavy (sprained right ankle), J.R. Smith (fractured right thumb) and Chris Andersen (torn ACL in right knee).
Davis, who was moved to center last week, was 10 of 27 from the field. New Orleans didn’t shoot a free throw until midway through the second quarter when Davis missed two attempts. The Pelicans were 7 of 10 from the line.
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.