By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — LeBron James drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and finished with 32 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
James, who changed his sneakers three times, also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, helping the Cavs rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to remain unbeaten since Nov. 11. His decisive 3-pointer in the final minute was in the face of JaKarr Sampson, who had jawed with James earlier.
Cleveland also won 13 straight in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Cavs will try for the team record Friday at Indiana.
This one wasn’t easy. The Kings gave the Cavs everything they had, but couldn’t contain James in the clutch.
Zach Randolph had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 17 points for the Kings. Sampson grabbed 16 rebounds in his first start this season.
The Cavs trailed 78-73 entering the fourth before Kyle Korver, who has been brilliant down the stretch all season, drained three 3-pointers in the first 1:25 of the final period to give Cleveland an 82-79 lead.
The game was tied at 95 when James dropped a runner high off the glass. Moments earlier, he rejected at shot at the rim by Hield.
Then, with the Cavs clinging to their two-point lead and the 24-shot clock about to expire, James hit his fifth 3-pointer. James went 12 of 18 from the floor.
Flat and seemingly disinterested in the first half, the Cavs found themselves trailing at halftime.
With their reserves— led by Hield’s 12 points — scoring 29, the Kings had a 57-48 lead at the break and were outworking the Cavs, who opened the third quarter with two quick turnovers and a technical in the first 40 seconds while falling behind by 14.
While Cleveland’s win streak is impressive, James said he won’t consider anything special until the Cavs nearly double it.
“Twenty-five,” he said when asked where the streak needs to get to before becoming significant. “Because you’re getting close to 33 (Lakers 1971-72), that’s the all-time record. We ain’t nowhere near close. We got close in Miami. We got to 27 and lost to Chicago.”
Cavaliers: F Tristan Thompson scrimmaged along with G Isaiah Thomas, who is nearing his debut with Cleveland after being sidelined with a hip injury. While it’s still not clear when Thomas will play, Thompson, who has missed 17 games since Nov. 1 with a strained left calf, could be back in the floor in days. “I’ll be ready to return when the front office and them (the medical team) say I’m ready to return,” Thompson said, purposely being vague. “I gotta stay in my lane like LaVar Ball said.” … Cleveland has made at least 10 3-pointers in 13 straight games.
Kings: Wrap up four-game trip at New Orleans on Friday.
Cavaliers: At Indiana on Friday.
Thomas nearing return
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cavaliers All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas played 4-on-4 on Wednesday, a significant step in his recovery from a hip injury.
Thomas, who has yet to make his debut with Cleveland, scrimmaged along with injured forward Tristan Thompson, rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic, and members of the coaching staff.
With coach Tyronn Lue and members of the team’s front office watching intently from behind the basket, Thomas moved freely and didn’t appear to have any restrictions during the half-court workout that took place following the team’s morning shootaround.
Lue reported that Thomas “looked good” and absorbed some contact. It was the second straight day Thomas scrimmaged.
However, Lue did not provide any update on when Thomas might play in a game. Lue planned to check with the team’s medical staff to find out the next step in Thomas’ recovery program, which the 28-year-old has described as his “slow grind.”
Because of Cleveland’s schedule, there aren’t many practice days for Thomas to get in work with his teammates. Lue said it’s possible he’ll practice with members of the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ D-League affiliate.
Thomas has been making steady progress and nearing his return to action and helping the Cavs, who acquired him during the summer in the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
Since training camp opened, the Cavs have said they expect Thomas to play in games by the end of 2017, and that projection could be moved up.
Thomas has been building up his workouts steadily as he recovers from a torn labrum in his right hip.
It’s possible Thomas could play in one of Cleveland’s four home games this month before the team finishes December with three road games, including a Christmas Day matchup with the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
The Cavs would need to how Thomas recovers after taking contact during practice before he would be cleared to play.