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NBA scores 2016: LeBron James and the Cavaliers can play small ball, too

The Cavaliers can jack up a lot of threes when they want to, the Knicks can survive without their stars and everything else we learned from the NBA on Tuesday.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers embraced small ball and the three-point shot against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday -- and it worked. The Cavaliers came out on top 110-107 in a thrilling overtime battle to win their eighth game in a row.

LeBron James led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Kyrie Irving added 22 points and nine assists as the Cavaliers went small down the stretch with a lineup of Matthew Dellavedova, Irving, Iman Shumpert, James and Kevin Love, with J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson rotating in. The Cavaliers shot 44 threes -- the most in a game for Cleveland this season -- and hit 17 of them.

Cleveland's small-ball lineup didn't blow things open like the Golden State Warriors' cheat code lineup so often does, but it was enough to pull out a tough road win. It's mouth watering to think about the Cavaliers and Warriors going up against one another and running and gunning for 48 minutes. Luckily, that matchup may be less than a week away. The two teams will meet in Cleveland on Jan. 18.

The Cavaliers typically battle the Warriors by slowing things down, but this season's squad may be able to run with them. That said, the Mavericks gave them all they could handle.

The Mavericks outplayed the Cavaliers for much of the first three quarters. Chandler Parsons led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds, and Deron Williams had 16 points and 10 assists. Still, Cleveland stayed close. Both teams were superb in the fourth quarter and overtime. They played tough defense -- Parsons forced James into tough fadeaways -- and made tough shots -- Dellavedova and Love both hit big threes in the fourth.

The Mavericks gave a valiant effort. Wesley Johnson hit big shots down the stretch and Deron Williams played Irving tightly. There was 13 lead changes in the fourth quarter and overtime.

In the end, it came down to the Cavaliers' two stars: James and Irving. They didn't disappoint.

Down two with less than 30 seconds to play in regulation, James took care of business.

In overtime, it was Irving's turn. James could have taken a shot after Williams tried to draw a charge, but he found Irving for a contested 27-footer instead. And it worked.

The Cavaliers can try lineup after lineup. As long as James and Irving are playing to their full potential, they will have a chance to win.

3 other things we learned

The New York Knicks can somehow win with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on the bench down the stretch.

In a back-and-forth battle, the Knicks came out on top over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, and they did it without Anthony and Porzingis.

Anthony sprained his ankle in the second quarter and Porzingis fouled out. Both were key to the Knicks' win -- Anthony had 17 points in 18 minutes and Porzingis had 26 points and six rebounds -- but the Knicks' role players deserve kudos for stepping up in their absence. Thanks to some wonderful floor spacing, Arron Afflalo was well fed down low and put up 24 points. Jerian Grant was huge down the stretch, chipping in six points in 23 minutes off the bench.

Anthony and Porzingis make this Knicks team go, but the rest of the roster is catching up.

Tony Parker is warming up

The San Antonio Spurs have been nothing short of superb this season. If there was room for improvement, it might have been the play of Tony Parker. The veteran point guard answered the call against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, scoring a season-high 31 points -- 23 in the second half -- on 13-of-19 shooting to help the Spurs sprint past Detroit, 109-99.

Parker, 33, is averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 assists in 27 minutes per game this season. He hasn't been bad, but the way he took over against the Pistons illustrated how pivotal he can be to the Spurs at times. Parker will need to be on top of his game against Stephen Curry and the Warriors. That matchup on Jan. 25 can't come soon enough.

The also-rans in the West aren't closing the gap.

The Houston Rockets beat up on the Memphis Grizzlies 107-91 on Tuesday. Watching the game, it was hard to believe these teams were two of the league's best last season. James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 25 points in a game that was knotted at 83 before the Rockets took over down the stretch.

The Rockets moved to 20-19 with the win while the Grizzlies fell to 21-19. Their almost .500 records shined through on the court. These are middling teams that need to find respective sparks if they're going to have any shot to make noise in the NBA playoffs.

Play of the night

This is kind of cheating because the bucket didn't count -- because of rules and all, what with the ball bouncing off the clock -- but how the heck did this go in? Zach LaVine didn't get the bucket and the foul, but he did get the foul. And at least he made both free throws even though the Timberwolves lost.

5 fun things

Baron Davis is trying to come back to the NBA!

An 11-year-old kid has handles comparable to Stephen Curry.

Kristaps Porzingis had a block party.

Tyreke Evans lost control of the ball but somehow turned it into an and one-like assist.

Mark Cuban thinks the refs screwed up a goaltending call in the Cavs-Mavs game and made sure to say so on Twitter.


Pacers 116, Suns 97 (Indy Cornrows recapBright Side of the Sun recap)

Knicks 120, Celtics 114 (Posting and Toasting recapCeltics Blog recap)

Spurs 109, Pistons 99 (Pounding the Rock recapDetroit Bad Boys recap)

Bucks 106, Bulls 101 (Brew Hoop recapBlog a Bull recap)

Thunder 101, Timberwolves 96 (Welcome to Loud City recapCanis Hoopus recap)

Rockets 107, Grizzlies 91 (The Dream Shake recapGrizzly Bear Blues recap)

Cavaliers 110, Mavericks 107 OT (Fear the Sword recapMavs Moneyball recap)

Lakers 95, Pelicans 91 (Silver Screen and Roll recapThe Bird Writes recap)