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NBA: James delivers as Cavaliers breeze past Bucks

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball defended by Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) and forward John Henson (31) and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports, Reuters

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring 24 points and dishing out eight assists on Friday as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 116-97.

The four-time NBA most valuable player led the Cavaliers in scoring for the second straight game despite missing most of the pre-season with an injury. 

When James started the season he knew it was going to take time to fully recover from a sprained left ankle that limited him to just one pre-season game.

He played 37 minutes and drained 10 of 16 shots on Friday in front of a crowd of 18,700 at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center arena.

“I felt better tonight than I did after game one,” said James who scored a team high 29 points in a season-opening win over Boston on Tuesday.

“Each game is going to be another opportunity for me to get into game shape,” he added. “Today I am still not where I want to be.”

Don’t tell that to the Bucks, who also had to contend with Kevin Love’s second double-double of the season.

Love finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Kyle Korver tallied 17, hitting five-of-six three pointers. 

“This is a huge win as a team,” said James.

James injured his ankle after stepping on the foot of rookie forward Cedi Osman during practice on September 27.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 34 points on 15-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists for Milwaukee, who lost their home opener and dropped to 1-1 on the season.

James said the Cavs stuck to their game plan, setting the tone early on defence before getting the offence “popping”. 

“We know Giannis is going to get his. But we made them make multiple passes, multiple triple drives. We defended.

“And then offensively in the second half we started to get that ball popping and had their defence off balance.”

Elsewhere, Kemba Walker scored 26 points and Dwight Howard burned his former team for 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets rallied from a 20-point deficit to storm past the Atlanta Hawks 109-91.

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