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LeBron plays point, scores 34 as Cavs beat Bulls 119-112

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cavaliers' lineups are changing daily. Their defense is a mess, their slow starts are puzzling and the starting point guard is hurt.

Cleveland's got some problems.

LeBron James minimizes them all.

Making a rare start at point guard, James scored 34 points as the Cavs, using another early season lineup, awakened after a sluggish first half and beat the Chicago Bulls 119-112 on Tuesday night.

Although he often handles the ball and runs Cleveland's offense, James had not officially been listed as a guard since 2012 with Miami. The superstar added 13 assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Jae Crowder for a 3-pointer during Cleveland's 15-3 spurt in the third quarter.

The Bulls did all they could. James just did more.

''You're playing against the best player on the planet,'' Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said.

Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade, who asked Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to take him out of the starting lineup, came off the bench and added 11 points.

Justin Holiday scored 25 and rookie Lauri Markkanen 19 for Chicago, which made a season-high 17 3-pointers. The 7-foot Markkanen became the first player in NBA history to make 10 3-pointers in his first three career games.

Cleveland trailed 92-91 entering the fourth before Love dropped a 3 and Kyle Korver made a pair of 3s in 33 seconds. Chicago closed within six in the final two minutes, but the Cavs came up with two offensive rebounds to reset the shot clock before James drove past Markkanen for a left-handed layup to make it 118-110.

It was vintage James, perhaps the only player in the game who can play either guard spot, both forward positons and center.

It's how he was raised.

''Ever since I was a kid I've always learned every position on the floor,'' he said. ''The point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. And know all the plays, what they're doing and reads. Coach slides me to the 1, I know every set. If he slides me to the 5, I know the 5. I know the 4. I know the 3. I know the 2.

''I know every single play in every single position, so it makes the job a lot easier for me because I know where I should be and what my teammates should do.''

The Cavs were coming off an embarrassing loss to Orlando and their defense was atrocious in the first half, when the Bulls made 12 3-pointers and scored 65 points - 12 less than in their previous game.

Lue has been experimenting with lineups and combinations because of new players and injuries. He trotted out another new starting five - his third in three games - against the Bulls, moving James to the point, and starting Tristan Thompson at center so Love wouldn't have to guard 7-foot-1 Robin Lopez the entire game.

But Cleveland's starters let Chicago control things early. Dropping uncontested 3-pointers, the Bulls opened a 14-point lead before the second group - led by Wade and Jeff Green - got the Cavs back in it. Green finished with 16 points.

''Thank God for our bench,'' said Lue, who angrily got after his team at halftime about defense. ''But we've got to be better - 17 3s again where guys are just looking at us, staring us down and raising for shots. We talked about making the guys put the ball on the floor and we didn't learn our lesson.''

TIP-INS

Bulls: Chicago came within one 3-pointer of matching the club record set on March 12, 2011. ... Lopez banked in his second career 3-pointer as the shot clock expired in the first quarter. Lopez made his first career 3 on Saturday against San Antonio. ... Former Cavs point guard Kay Felder, picked up on waivers from Atlanta before the season, scored 13 points in 15 minutes.

Cavaliers: Snapped a five-game losing streak to Chicago. ... Starting PG Derrick Rose missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... James played in his 771st regular-season game, matching center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for the most in franchise history.

ROOKIE RAVE

James is impressed with Markkanen, the No. 7 overall pick from Arizona.

''Very confident,'' James said. ''I watched him a lot. He wore my shoes a couple times. He wore my retro `Brons a couple times and I liked that. Can shoot the heck out of the ball and he's going to continue to get better. And the best thing about it is he'll get an opportunity.''

Markkanen didn't show any nerves, but was in awe being on the floor with James.

''That's a dream come true for me,'' he said. ''Your favorite player when you're growing up and then you get to go against him. He's a pretty tough guy to guard.''

STARTING SLOW

Cleveland has been outscored 74-46 in the first quarter of the last two games.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Host Atlanta on Thursday.

Cavaliers: Hit the road at Brooklyn on Wednesday night before playing at New Orleans on Friday.

Copyright 2017 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
R. Lopez
42 C
L. James
23 F
36.7 Min. Per Game 36.7
25.0 Pts. Per Game 25.0
6.3 Ast. Per Game 6.3
8.3 Reb. Per Game 8.3
54.3 Field Goal % 61.4
53.6 Three Point % 60.7
83.3 Free Throw % 88.2
  Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith 0:11
  Paul Zipser missed jump shot 0:16
  Defensive rebound by Paul Zipser 0:21
  LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:25
+ 1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 0:25
  Personal foul on Jerian Grant 0:25
  Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith 0:25
  Justin Holiday missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:27
  Defensive rebound by Jerian Grant 0:31
  LeBron James missed jump shot 0:34
+ 2 Paul Zipser made reverse layup, assist by Jerian Grant 0:59
Team Stats
Points 112 119
Field Goals 42-88 (47.7%) 43-83 (51.8%)
3-Pointers 17-33 (51.5%) 16-38 (42.1%)
Free Throws 11-13 (84.6%) 17-22 (77.3%)
Total Rebounds 45 48
Offensive 8 8
Defensive 31 31
Team 6 9
Assists 28 28
Steals 3 5
Blocks 3 3
Turnovers 9 9
Fouls 20 14
Technicals 0 0
12 PTS, 6 REB, 10 AST
34 PTS, 2 REB, 13 AST
1234T
away team logo Bulls 0-3 38302420112
home team logo Cavaliers 3-1 28372628119
Team Stats
away team logo Bulls 0-3 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Cavaliers 3-1 101.1 PPG 41.4 RPG 19.2 APG
Key Players
J. Holiday G 12.2 PPG 4.0 RPG 2.1 APG 37.1 FG%
L. James F PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
J. Holiday G 25 PTS 4 REB 1 AST
L. James F 34 PTS 2 REB 13 AST
47.7 FG% 51.8
51.5 3PT FG% 42.1
84.6 FT% 77.3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Holiday 36 25 4 1 1 1 0 2 8/17 4/9 5/6 0 4 33 +8
L. Markkanen 31 19 8 0 0 1 2 1 7/12 5/8 0/0 2 6 26 0
J. Grant 32 12 6 10 1 0 2 5 4/8 1/4 3/3 0 6 37 +2
R. Lopez 30 11 3 3 0 0 1 1 5/8 1/1 0/0 2 1 19 +10
P. Zipser 33 11 7 4 0 0 0 2 5/11 1/2 0/0 1 6 26 -1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Holiday 36 25 4 1 1 1 0 2 8/17 4/9 5/6 0 4 33 +8
L. Markkanen 31 19 8 0 0 1 2 1 7/12 5/8 0/0 2 6 26 0
J. Grant 32 12 6 10 1 0 2 5 4/8 1/4 3/3 0 6 37 +2
R. Lopez 30 11 3 3 0 0 1 1 5/8 1/1 0/0 2 1 19 +10
P. Zipser 33 11 7 4 0 0 0 2 5/11 1/2 0/0 1 6 26 -1
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Valentine 16 13 4 0 0 0 0 1 5/10 3/4 0/0 0 4 17 -8
K. Felder 15 13 1 4 1 0 2 1 5/11 2/4 1/2 0 1 21 -9
Q. Pondexter 13 6 2 2 0 0 0 2 2/5 0/1 2/2 1 1 12 -8
C. Felicio 16 2 2 3 0 0 1 3 1/5 0/0 0/0 2 0 9 -17
D. Nwaba 13 0 2 1 0 1 1 2 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 4 -12
N. Mirotic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Dunn - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Payne - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. LaVine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Blakeney - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Arcidiacono - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 112 39 28 3 3 9 20 42/88 17/33 11/13 8 31 204 -35
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. James 37 34 2 13 3 0 2 1 13/20 4/6 4/5 0 2 63 +7
K. Love 29 20 12 2 0 0 2 2 7/16 3/7 3/4 3 9 34 +1
J. Crowder 30 11 2 0 0 0 0 2 4/10 3/7 0/0 1 1 13 +1
T. Thompson 23 5 9 0 0 1 1 2 2/3 0/0 1/2 2 7 14 -4
J. Smith 32 3 4 4 1 0 1 3 1/8 1/7 0/0 2 2 15 +1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. James 37 34 2 13 3 0 2 1 13/20 4/6 4/5 0 2 63 +7
K. Love 29 20 12 2 0 0 2 2 7/16 3/7 3/4 3 9 34 +1
J. Crowder 30 11 2 0 0 0 0 2 4/10 3/7 0/0 1 1 13 +1
T. Thompson 23 5 9 0 0 1 1 2 2/3 0/0 1/2 2 7 14 -4
J. Smith 32 3 4 4 1 0 1 3 1/8 1/7 0/0 2 2 15 +1
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Green 23 16 2 2 0 0 0 1 4/6 1/1 7/8 0 2 22 +10
K. Korver 22 11 3 1 0 1 1 1 4/7 3/6 0/0 0 3 16 +10
D. Wade 18 11 3 4 1 1 1 1 5/7 0/0 1/2 0 3 23 +8
C. Frye 7 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 3/3 1/1 1/1 0 1 9 +4
I. Shumpert 13 0 1 2 0 0 1 1 0/3 0/3 0/0 0 1 4 -3
J. Holland - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Rose - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Perrantes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Osman - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Zizic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Calderon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 119 39 28 5 3 9 14 43/83 16/38 17/22 8 31 213 +35