CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James made more history and helped the Cavaliers move up in the standings.
James tied the franchise career assists record in the third quarter and Cleveland moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with an 89-79 victory over Phoenix on Saturday night.
James tied Mark Price at 4,206 in the third quarter with the last of his eight assists and scored 17 points as the Cavaliers finished a rugged stretch of four games in five nights.
“It’s a pretty cool feat anytime time I get an opportunity to move into the record books,” James said. “Having assists means my teammates are making shots. Credit goes to my teammates.”
James discarded his trademark headband in the second quarter and played without it the rest of the game.
“It just happened,” he said. “I just took it off.”
James was 6 for 16 from the field and had six rebounds to help the Cavaliers win their 13th straight at home and move even with Chicago.
Timofey Mozgov led the Cavaliers with 19 points. Tristan Thompson had 15 points with 12 rebounds, and Kevin Love finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Markieff Morris scored 16 points to lead Phoenix. The Suns fell two games behind eighth-place Oklahoma City in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Cavaliers built a 32-point lead in the third quarter and it appeared James’ night was over, but the Suns cut it to 17 early in the fourth, prompting his return. After the Suns got it to 84-74, Thompson made two free throws and James hit a 3-pointer.
The Cavaliers might have staggered to the finish line, but they held on and won’t play again until Tuesday.
“Mind over matter,” James said. “Obviously, four in five nights, you felt it a little in the fourth quarter.”
“It got a little messy in the fourth quarter,” Cleveland coach David Blatt said. “I think we got tired and a little worn out.”
The home winning streak is Cleveland’s longest since winning 16 straight from Feb. 11-April 12, 2009.
The Suns, who missed their first 21 3-point attempts Friday night in an overtime win in Brooklyn, made their first three attempts from behind the arc Saturday but cooled off considerably and finished 9 of 25.
“We didn’t get any stops in the first half,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Maybe our guys were worn out a little bit from overtime last night. I’m not sure what it was.”
P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green each scored 11 points for Phoenix.
James scored 18 points and was 5 for 17 from the field with nine turnovers, one short of his career high, on Friday night in a loss in Atlanta.
The Cavaliers lost to the Suns 107-100 on Jan. 13 in Phoenix, the day James returned after missing eight games with back and knee injuries. Markieff Morris had a career-high 35 points on 15-of-21 shooting.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
Hornacek was rooting for the Cavaliers to beat Atlanta on Friday. “When you’re going up against an elite team like Cleveland, you hope they win the night before,” he said. “They tend to come back a little angrier in their next game, so we would have preferred they win in Atlanta.”
SETTLE DOWN, FOLKS
Blatt is taking the loss to Atlanta in stride, although that apparently isn’t the case with everyone.
“Here, there’s a knee-jerk reaction to everything because this is a lovely, wonderful place, but it’s not easy because every time there’s a hiccup it becomes a lot more than that.” Blatt then caught himself and joked, “I’m sorry now I said that because that’s going to cause another knee-jerk reaction. Strike that from the record.”
Suns: C Alex Len was out after twisting his right ankle Friday at Brooklyn, an injury that first occurred before the All-Star break, but said he plans on returning Monday against Golden State. “I don’t think he ever fully recovered from it, so it’s a little sore,” Hornacek said. … G Eric Bledsoe slipped to the floor while driving in the lane in the second quarter, causing his shot to land on top of the backboard.
Cavaliers: The team will practice Monday after being off Sunday. “We really need to have a good practice,” Blatt said. “It’s been awhile because of our schedule. Looking forward to it, actually.” … Blatt praised the University of Kentucky for finishing the regular season with a 31-0 record. That’s a fabulous accomplishment,” he said. “It’s incredibly difficult, the pressure that’s on the team day after day. Good for them.” … Blatt said F Shawn Marion (strained left hip) is close to resuming on-court activities.
Suns: Host Golden State on Monday night.
Cavaliers: Play at Dallas on Tuesday night.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.