NBA-James scores 24 points as Cavs beat Celtics

Dec 15 (The Sports Xchange) - The Cleveland Cavaliers, closing in on the return of point guard Kyrie Irving, won their third consecutive game when they beat the Celtics 89-77 in Boston on Tuesday. Forward LeBron James capped a 12-0 third-quarter run with a reverse slam dunk as the Cavs took control. James, who finished with 24 points, had six during that run and also capped a 10-3 fourth-quarter spurt that made things comfortable for Cleveland (16-7). He shot 10-for-20 from the floor (0-for-3 from 3-point range) and committed five turnovers, also grabbing seven rebounds. The Celtics (14-11) closed a 13-point deficit to seven, but Cleveland forward Kevin Love hit six points and James two in an 8-0 run that sent fans heading for the exits. Love, whose 2015 postseason ended on the TD Garden floor when he was injured by Boston forward Kelly Olynyk, scored 20 points and added eight rebounds and five assists. It was a different Cav who got injured this time, as guard Iman Shumpert, who missed the first 21 games while recovering from wrist surgery, left the game with a groin complaint. "Honestly, (I am) a little bit concerned," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said of Shumpert, who missed the first 21 games of the season. "I have no idea what the extent is but given what our recent history is, I'm concerned." On a brighter note, the Cavs are close to getting Irving back for his season debut after his recovery from a knee injury. Blatt went out of his way to credit James' oft-overlooked defense as a key to the victory. "It seems like there's nothing we don't ask of him that he doesn't answer for us," said Blatt. "That's why he's the greatest player in the game." Talking about the team defense, James said: "That's one of our staples we stress every single day -- defending at a high level and trying to move the ball offensively. In the first half, we allowed them to get to some of their spots. Wasn't as aggressive, but we still played very well. "They had 46 points at halftime. But in the second half, we just locked down and then we started moving the ball. We just kind of kept them off base." Guard Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points, while forward Jae Crowder, who played strong defense on James much of the night, added 14. Guard Isaiah Thomas shot 3-for-15 from the floor en route to 12 points. (Editing by Andrew Both)