SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LeBron James became the youngest player ever with 30,000 career points, but LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points to lift the San Antonio Spurs over the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers 114-102 on Tuesday night.
James had 28 points while becoming the seventh member of the 30,000-point club, yet he couldn’t keep the Cavaliers from dropping their 10th in 13 games.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray – friend and mentee of James – had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in his second start since replacing a healthy Tony Parker. Murray soared for a tip follow and then rose to disrupt James’ driving layup, which led to a 3-pointer by Danny Green that gave the Spurs a 105-94 lead with 4:20 remaining.
Murray’s effort helped San Antonio push past Cleveland in a battle between teams entangled in turmoil.
The Spurs denied reports that injured superstar Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with how the team is handling his right quadriceps tendinopathy and wants to be traded.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, acknowledged reports that they held a team meeting to address Kevin Love’s early exit due to illness from a blowout loss at Oklahoma City and his subsequent absence from the following day’s practice.
Love said the Cavs have a history of thriving on chaos, and they seemed to put the dysfunction aside early as James got the seven points he needed to reach his milestone.
After missing his first two midrange jumpers and a pair of free throws, James made two driving layups and a 20-footer, and then rose above Danny Green for a 19-foot jumper with one second remaining in the first quarter to reach the mark. The shot put Cleveland up 29-25.
At 33 years and 24 days, James is the youngest player to get 30,000. Bryant was 34 years and 104 days when he got there.
Cavaliers: With 30,021 points, James joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808) on the list. … Iman Shumpert returned after missing two months following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He played seven minutes Nov. 27 against Philadelphia in his previous appearance. … Cleveland’s bench is averaging a franchise best 41.1 points per game this season. … The Cavs have allowed 100 points in four straight games.
Spurs: Aldridge was named an All-Star reserve. He is the first Spurs player who didn’t play his rookie season in San Antonio to make the All-Star team since Artis Gilmore in 1986. … San Antonio is 38-7 at home against Cleveland. … Pau Gasol did not play after spraining his right wrist against Indiana on Sunday. … The Spurs have had at least one player selected for the All-Star Game in 39 of 41 years, missing out in 1989 and 1997.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Friday night.
Spurs: Visit Memphis on Wednesday night.