BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Celtics won their third straight game with a 92-87 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the NBA leaders charging to victory on the back of 22 points from Ray Allen.
Boston improved to a league-best 44-12 with the win as Kevin Garnett chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds to help the Celtics overcome a milestone performance by Cleveland's LeBron James.
Despite suffering a sprained ankle that forced him out of the game with 4:24 left in the first half, James returned in the second half to amass 26 points that allowed him to become the youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points.
James reached the milestone after 368 games aged 23 years and 59 days, more than a year younger than LA Laker Kobe Bryant was when he hit the mark in 2003 (24 years, 193 days).
After X-rays on James' ankle indicated no serious damage, the Cleveland forward returned but was unable to rally his team past the Celtics, who were opening a five-game home stand.
"I didn't want to go down," James told reporters about his injury. "I know my ankle, and tomorrow it's going to be a lot worse.
"It doesn't make me happy to do it (break the record) in a losing effort but to be in the record books is a tribute to my team mates, myself and my family."
The Cavaliers trailed by double-digits for most of the game and only got close in the final minute as the Celtics evened their season series at 2-2 against the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Building a new winning streak after losing three straight games, Boston shot 52 percent to just 38 percent for the Cavs, and got a 13-point performance off the bench from Leon Powe.
Paul Pierce added 12 points for the Celtics against a Cleveland team playing its third game since an 11-player, three-team blockbuster trade.
"It was a pretty good effort against a quality opponent," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.
"They're (Cleveland) going to be so much better because of that trade."
Delonte West added 20 points for the Cavaliers, while Wally Szczerbiak had 12 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas pulled down 12 rebounds to go with his eight points.
* The Utah Jazz rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to defeat the Detroit Pistons 103-95.
* The Denver Nuggets crushed the Seattle SuperSonics 138-96 behind Allen Iverson's 31 points.
* Mike Bibby had 24 points and 12 assists in his first game against his former team mates, leading the Atlanta Hawks to a 123-117 win over the Sacramento Kings.
* The New York Knicks matched their easiest victory of the season as Nate Robinson scored 22 points in a 113-89 rout of the Charlotte Bobcats.
* The Toronto Raptors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the eighth straight time with a 107-85 home victory. Chris Bosh scored 28 points for the Raptors.
* The Philadelphia 76ers ended a four-game losing streak to Orlando by beating the Magic for the first time this season, 101-89 behind a season-high 26 points from Willie Green.
* The New Orleans Hornets ended a three-game losing streak with a 120-103 win over the Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul had 25 points and 15 assists for New Orleans.
(Writing by Roger Lajoie in Toronto; Editing by John O'Brien)