LeBron James scored seven points while playing only 20 minutes against his former team, and the Cleveland Cavaliers went on to beat the Miami Heat 122-119 in overtime Saturday in an exhibition game in Brazil.
Kevin Love, who was acquired by Cleveland a month after James left the Heat to return to Ohio, finished with 25 points in an entertaining game in the beachfront city that will host the 2016 Olympics.
Chris Bosh led Miami with 19 points. The Cavaliers are 2-0 in the preseason, and the Heat fell to 0-3.
James shook hands with the Heat starters at the tipoff but made little eye contact. James said in practices in Rio that there was no bad blood.
“He’s on another team,” the Heat’s Chris Bosh said Friday. “I think he’d understand that. I understand that. We’ll have plenty of time to talk in the summer, and that’s how it is now.”
The real tension between the Heat and Cavs comes Dec. 25, when the teams meet for the first time in the regular season.
James struggled in the first half Saturday and played little after that, but his new team carried him. He finished 2-of-8 from the field and 3-of-7 from the free throw line, although he did have eight assists.
According to a report this week by Forbes, James overtook Tiger Woods as the most marketable athlete in the world.
The HSBC Arena, which will be used for gymnastics during the Olympics, had a sold-out crowd of 15,411, with the top ticket advertised at $350 and green-and-yellow Brazilian flags adding to the color.
“Who knows where this league will be 20, 25 years from now,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “In the last six years since I’ve been the head coach, we’ve been to England, France, China and Rio with tremendous experiences. Whether or not that happens on a regular basis — in the regular season — I don’t know.”
Dwyane Wade is also a booster of the NBA’s global profile.
“The NBA has done an unbelievable job of growing the game — the players as well — of making this game global,” Wade said. We all benefit from it.”
It was the Cavaliers’ 32-year-old Brazilian center, Anderson Varejao, who got the loudest applause, upstaging James when the teams were introduced. Varejao left Brazil at 19 to begin playing abroad.
“I’ve been waiting my entire life for this,” Varejao said from an on-court microphone. “I hope you enjoy it.”
The crowd did.
James missed the first shot of the game, a fall-away jumper from the left wing. Moments later Varejao scored the first points on the Cavs’ second trip down the floor. He finished the first quarter with eight points as the Cavs led 27-21.
Miami trailed by 20 points but rallied against the Cavs’ reserves to tie it at 105 and force overtime. Cleveland stretched the lead to 122-119 on two free throws by Joe Harris with 13 seconds left. Miami’s Shabazz Napier missed two 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
The Cavs played without guard Kyrie Irving, who sprained his right ankle before the team left the United States.
SOURCE: The Associated Press