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Bulls hand Cavs third straight NBA loss

AAP logoAAP 3/12/2016

Cleveland superstar LeBron James had plenty to say after the Cavaliers gave up 78 points in the paint on the way to another loss in the NBA. The condensed version was this: It's time to start playing like a championship team again.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade had 24 and the Chicago Bulls beat James and the slumping Cavaliers 111-105 on Friday night (Saturday AEDT).

Taj Gibson added a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago. Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the balanced Bulls handed the Cavaliers their third straight loss.

"We got to get out of the honeymoon stage," James said. "You got to play the game, the right way. We've got to battle every night like we ain't won nothing. Last year is last year. After ring night is over with, now it's a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night and we have to understand that.

"The honeymoon stage is over. It's time to play some real ball and be physical, especially in the trenches. Giving up 78 points (in the paint) is ridiculous. We've got to man up. Everybody."

James manned up to the tune of 27 points and 13 assists, a championship-level performance on a night when he showed up dressed as a World Series champion: he arrived at the arena in a Cubs uniform to honour a World Series baseball bet with buddy Wade.

Kyrie Irving added 20 points and eight assists, but the Cavaliers matched their longest losing streak in a year.

In San Antonio, Patty Mills continued his fine start to the NBA season, scoring 10 points, making eight assists and grabing four rebounds in the Spurs 107-105 win against Washington.

Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points, including the winning jumper with six seconds left as the Spurs overcame another sluggish start.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points for San Antonio, who won their 17th straight home game against Washington.

Toronto beat Los Angeles 113-80 at home with Kyle Lowry scoring 24 points to go with seven assists.

Second-year man Norman Powell is only too happy to take the credit for Lowry shooting the lights out for the Raptors, putting it down to his pre-game tradition with the All-Star guard that is powering his hot hand.

"We have a little shooting competition, the first to make five from five spots, and ever since we've started doing that he's been lighting it up, so I'm taking credit for it," Powell said jokingly after the game, Toronto's season-high fifth straight victory and a fourth consecutive win over the Lakers.

In New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Derrick Rose had 24 and Kyle O'Quinn added season highs of 20 points and 13 rebounds as the New York Knicks defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-114.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin praised the way Los Angeles finished off a 10-day trip that closed with games on the shores of lakes Erie and Pontchartrain on back-to-back nights.

Griffin had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists, and the Clippers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 114-96 on Friday night (Saturday AEDT).

The dominant effort came one night after an equally convincing 113-94 triumph at Cleveland on Thursday night - with a flight from the United States' northern border to the Gulf Coast in between, touching down in the Big Easy around 2 am local time.

In Denver, James Harden scored 20 points and the Houston Rockets led from start to finish in beating the Denver Nuggets 128-110.

Elsewhere, Boston beat Sacramento 87-92, the Magic beat the 76ers 105-88 and Detroit beat Atlanta 121-85.

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