LeBron leads, others follow

By Agencies: Wednesday, May 3rd 2017 at 10:22 GMT +3 | Basketball
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll. [Reuters]

LeBron James sparked defending NBA champion Cleveland over Toronto while James Harden powered the Houston Rockets to an epic rout of San Antonio in second-round playoff openers on Monday night.

James scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Kyrie Irving added 24 points and 10 assists and Kevin Love had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Cavaliers ripped the visiting Raptors 116-105 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James hit 13-of-23 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line while Tristan Thompson contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who James warned will be better in Game Two.

"I feel like I'll be a lot better on Wednesday," James said. "Little bit of rhythm here and conditioning there, I think a lot of our mistakes we were able to cover up for because our energy level was high."

Harden had 20 points and 14 assists while Trevor Ariza scored 23 points and Clint Capela contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Rockets dumped the host Spurs 126-99 to start their best-of-seven Western Conference series.

"It's just one win," Harden said. "It's a good win, but we've got to be ready for Game Two. They've got a lot of fight in them. We missed a few shots. We've got to play better in game two."

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The Rockets sank a team playoff record 22 3-pointers on 50 attempts, inflicting the most 3-pointers allowed by the Spurs in playoff history.

San Antonio trailed by as many as 39 points in the team's largest game-one defeat in playoff history. The Spurs 69-39 half-time deficit was their worst in playoff history.

"We lost and they won and they played better," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We competed but I don't think we executed well."

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