CLEVELAND (AP) – No player in NBA history stuffed a stat sheet quite like Oscar Robertson. The “Big O” was a triple-double machine.
On Monday night, LeBron James moved into his rarefied air.
James joined Robertson on an exclusive list and Kevin Love scored a season-high 34 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers remained unbeaten at home with a 117-103 win over the Orlando Magic.
James had 15 points and 13 assists and joined the legendary Robertson as the only players in history to rank in the top 25 in career points and assists.
“He’s a guy who laid the foundation,” James said of Robertson, “and I’m just trying to carry it on.”
With his fifth assist, James moved past Norm Nixon (6,386) into 25th place and moved alongside Robertson, who finished his Hall of Fame career with 26,710 points and 9,887 assists. James will soon eclipse Robertson’s scoring total and the unselfish superstar is a good bet to pass him on the assist list as well.
James fittingly distributed praise to those who helped him reach the milestone.
“I give all the credit to the two great franchises I’ve been a part of and the players and the teammates and the coaching staffs that I’ve played for so far that have allowed me to go out and do the things I’ve done in my career,” he said. “So none of that would be possible without them.”
Love scored 27 in the first half – 17 in a row in one stretch for the Cavs, who made 18 3-pointers and improved to 8-0 at home.
Andrew Nicholson scored 18 and Evan Fournier had 13 points for the Magic. Orlando has dropped 11 straight to Cleveland.
James came in needing 21 points to surpass Reggie Miller (25,279) for 18th place on the career scoring list. While he didn’t quite catch Miller, he moved into the company of Robertson, a do-it-all guard who is sometimes overlooked when some fans debate the game’s top players.
James knows better.
“If you are a true basketball fan and you know the history of the game, there is no way he can ever be lost,” James said. “In our league too much is trying to compare greats to greats instead of just accepting and acknowledging and saying, ‘Wow, these are just great players.'”
Cavs coach David Blatt was not aware James matched Robertson until after the game.
“That gives me chills to even hear that,” Blatt said. “That’s an amazing, amazing accomplishment.”
J.R. Smith scored a season-high 26 and Matthew Dellavedova, starting in place of injured Mo Williams and playing with a sore leg, added 15 for Cleveland.
James passed Nixon with five minutes left in the second quarter, when he drove the lane and flicked a pass into the right corner to Love, who knocked down one of his six 3-pointers.
It was Love, with some help from James, who brought Cleveland back with a one-man scoring spree in the second quarter.
With the Cavs down 42-34 after squandering a 12-point lead, Love made three 3-pointers and scored 17 straight points over a 5:20 span. He capped his outburst with a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left – off another dish by James – to give the Cavs a 59-55 halftime lead.
The Cavs came out firing in the third, making three early 3-pointers to push their lead to double digits and pull away from the Magic, outscored 33-20 in the third.
Orlando’s starters were outscored 99-44.
“It was kind of men against boys,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said.
NO MO, NO MOZGOV
The Cavs remained short-handed as Williams missed his third straight game with an ankle injury. Center Timofey Mozgov (strained shoulder) isn’t expected back for another 10 days.
Magic: G Victor Oladipo made the game’s wildest shot, driving into the lane and blindly flipping the ball over his head into the basket. … Talk about flipping the script: The Magic beat the Cavs 10 consecutive times before Cleveland began its current run against Orlando.
Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson had 14 rebounds. … The Cavs have made at least 11 3-pointers in six of their last seven games. They came in averaging 9.6 treys per game. … Cleveland is 28-1 in the regular season at home since Jan. 19.
Magic: Host New York on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Visit Toronto on Wednesday.