CLEVELAND — LeBron James scored 18 points against his former Miami teammates and Cleveland had six others score in double figures as the Cavaliers beat the Heat 113-93 Wednesday night for their 14th win in 15 games.
Timofey Mozgov scored 20 and Tristan Thomson 17 in Cleveland’s final home game before the All-Star break. The Cavs will play at Chicago on Thursday before the season’s extended respite.
With the win, the Cavs avenged an emotional Christmas Day loss in Miami — James’ first game against the team he led to two NBA titles and four straight Finals. Cleveland is a very different team these days, improved by two major trades and James again playing at his unrivaled levels.
Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who were again without All-Star Dwyane Wade. He missed his seventh straight game with a strained right hamstring.
Cavaliers forward Kevin Love sat out most of the second half after he was accidentally poked in the right eye by Chalmers. Love was reaching for a rebound when he was swiped by Mario Chalmers with 9:48 left in the third quarter. Love went down immediately in extreme pain, and as he was checked by the medical staff, his teammates looked on with concern.
Love was escorted to the locker room and didn’t return. The Cavs said he has a corneal abrasion. Love will travel with the team and undergo further examination Thursday.
In recent days, Love has been dragged into a confusing social media storm after James posted a message on Twitter that seemed to be directed at the power forward.
Cleveland built a 26-point lead in the first half, allowed Miami to climb back within 12 in the third before the Cavs finally put away the Heat.
Early on, James was intent on reminding the Heat how much they miss him, and perhaps prove to Whiteside that he’s more than a “good player” — a comment uttered by the young center recently. James was aggressive, blowing past defenders and showing an explosiveness that was missing before he took two weeks off in January.
James scored on a three-point play, switching hands and scoring while being fouled by Chris Bosh as the Cavs pushed their lead to 23 early in the second. The lead swelled to 52-26 before the Cavs got sloppy and the Heat warmed up. Miami used a 20-4 run to pull within 10 and only trailed 59-48 at halftime.
The Cavs shot 70 percent in the first quarter, which ended with Miami’s Tyler Johnson hitting a half-court shot at the horn.
Heat: Wade plans to make his return on Feb. 20, Miami’s first game after the break. Wade felt good about his decision to sit out against the Cavs as well as this weekend’s All-Star Game in New York. “Playing this game, a very emotional game, you might try to do a little too much,” he said after shootaround. “I didn’t want to have any kind of setbacks.” … Injuries have hampered the Heat, but coach Erik Spoelstra refuses to use them as an excuse. “I don’t care,” he said. “This is a men’s-only league. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, forge ahead.”
Cavaliers: James moved into a tie with Hall of Famer John Havlicek for the second most assists for a forward in league history. James has 6,114 assists. Scottie Pippen is first with 6,135. … Cleveland has won 10 straight home games. … Backup G Matthew Dellavedova has been added to the World Team for the Rising Stars Challenge this weekend in New York.
Cavaliers: At Chicago on Thursday.
Heat: At New York on Feb. 20.