LeBron, Cavaliers roll in front of royal audience
NEW YORK (AP) -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers turned a close game into a clinic after Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, grabbed courtside seats to watch them, beating the Brooklyn Nets 110-88 on Monday night.
Kevin Love was shooting free throws when the royal couple emerged from a tunnel with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter. Perhaps distracted by the loud roar, Love missed the second, leaving the game tied at 61.
But James, putting on a show that few others could, threw some sharp passes to go with his nine points in the period and the Cavs cruised from there to their seventh straight victory.
He finished with 18 points after joining Kyrie Irving and some Nets players in wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts during warmups.
That would've been the story most nights, but he had to share it with the royals' arrival during their first visit to New York. They met earlier in the game with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, celebrating a partnership between the Royal Foundation and the league to raise awareness about the importance of international wildlife conservation.
The buzz built as officials began gathering near the tunnel at halftime for the couple, and it may have amped up James, who had a quiet first half but took his game to another level in front of William and Kate, a day after saying it was an "honor" to have them watch him play.
James' biggest statement before then came during the pregame layup line. He and Irving, along with Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and two other Nets, wore warmup shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner, who died July 17 after a police officer placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A recording of Garner's arrest showed him gasping, "I can't breathe" during the fatal encounter, and thousands have protested a grand jury decision not to indict the officer since the announcement on Wednesday.
Williams had 13 points and 11 assists but shot 3 for 14 for the Nets, who played without injured starters Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.
Love had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Dion Waiters came off Cleveland's bench for 26 points.
Cavaliers: Irving had just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. ... Reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova returned after missing more than a month with a sprained ligament in his left knee. Dellavedova, playing in just his fourth game of the season, shot an airball on his first attempt.
Nets: Lopez has a strained lower back. Lionel Hollins said he didn't know much beyond an MRI on Sunday showed it was "not broken." Johnson was sidelined by a stomach virus. The Nets had won five straight at home against Cleveland.
Cavaliers: Host Toronto on Tuesday.
Nets: Visit Chicago on Wednesday