Cavs hope to have James back against Pelicans

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers hope to have the NBA's best player back in the lineup Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

LeBron James did not play in Thursday's 103-94 loss to Oklahoma City because of a sore left knee and is expected back in the lineup tonight. James is fourth in the NBA in scoring with 24.8 points per game.

Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored 26 and 19 points, respectively, while the Cavaliers were led by Kyrie Irving's 20 points. Irving was probable prior to the game with a knee sprain. Kevin Love recorded 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which shot just 36.5 percent and made only 9-of-28 3-pointers.

"We have a lot of guys on this team that can step up. Shooting as poorly as we did, and still climbing and fighting back against a very good team in the Western Conference and league overall, it showed us a lot," Love said. "Obviously we're not too happy with a loss, but there are a lot of things that we can see in that fourth quarter that showed a lot of character about our team."

Love has posted a double-double in six of his last seven games. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Dion Waiters scored 14 points.

The Cavs, who are 6-4 on the road, had won a season-best eight in a row. After visiting the Pelicans in the Big Easy, the Cavs will play five in a row at home.

Cleveland was winning by an average of 14.5 points during the eight-game winning streak and is unbeaten in the last 11 games when scoring 100 or more points. It is 12-1 when reaching 100 points this season.

New Orleans will play three in a row at home and suffered a 112-107 loss at Dallas on Wednesday.

Anthony Davis posted 31 points and 11 rebounds, Jrue Holiday ended with 30 points and 10 assists, and Ryan Anderson scored 13 points for the Pelicans, who shot 45.5 percent for the game and lost for the sixth time in nine tries.

Davis sustained a jammed toe in the loss, but it's nothing serious.

"He was fine," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. "He didn't want to come out and I wasn't wanting to take him out, either. I'm never going to put him in harms way. Unless I see that look in his eyes, and I've been around him long enough to know when I should take him out. He jammed his toe. He said he couldn't feel his toenail or something like that. But I think he was OK."

New Orleans outrebounded Dallas 45-29 and held the Mavericks to five offensive boards. The Pelicans had 16 rebounds on the offensive end.

The Pelicans will also host Golden State and Utah on the homestand and are 6-2 at Smoothie King Center this season.

Cleveland defeated New Orleans by a 118-111 score on Nov. 10 at Quicken Loans Arena and was led by James, who had 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Irving also scored 32 points and Anderson paced the Pelicans with that same amount. Anderson made 8-of-12 3-pointers.