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Milestone within James' reach when Cavs play Thunder

CLEVELAND -- If there was a Friday night dinner planned for Team Banana Boat, Dwyane Wade wasn't going.

His wife, actress Gabrielle Union, is in town this week, so Wade said he's going out with her instead of LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Carmelo Anthony.

James, Wade, and the Cavs host Anthony's Thunder at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC. The three are close friends who vacation together, are standouts from the 2003 draft class, and at present are on teams with high expectations that are trying to figure things out.

"Me, Bron, CP (Houston's Chris Paul) and Melo, we all have a group chat," Wade said. "We all talk more this week than we did last week, more this month than we did last month, whatever the case may be. You don't really talk to guys before the game, like, 'Hey, you ready to play tomorrow?' That's not really the conversation.

"It's always great playing against a friend that you respect. The game is going to be what we all want it to be from the standpoint of the star power that the game brings and we're going to enjoy it."

Wade and James, who played together for four seasons in Miami before reuniting on the Cavs this season, and Anthony, in his first season with the Thunder, may very well be together for a member of the group's latest milestone. James needs just 25 points to become the seventh NBA player to score 30,000 career points.

"It would be cool," Wade said. "When I got 20,000 LeBron was ... we was playing Cleveland and it was actually pretty cool that it happened in that moment and it would be cool to be, with me and Carmelo, to be there.

"This is an elite class for a guy to be in. I mean, 30,000 points is insane. I definitely want him to do it (Saturday) like everybody else."

The Thunder have won three straight and are now 25-20 after starting the year 4-7. Oklahoma City had the league's MVP last year in Russell Westbrook, and added to its roster by trading for Paul George and Anthony during the offseason.

None of them were voted to start in next month's All-Star Game, though Westbrook is having another excellent season with averages of 24.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.9 assists. George is averaging 20.4 points and 5.5 rebounds, and Anthony's 17.6 points per game and 15.6 shots per game are career lows.

But, after early speculation that the new Thunder could break up even before the All-Star break, the team is 17-8 since Dec. 1.

"Once you accept something, regardless of what it is, I think you become comfortable with it," Anthony said, according to ESPN. "You start putting your all into it, you start working on that role and on that acceptance, and it becomes fun. I think right now, after accepting that role, I think early in December, the game is starting to become fun again for me."

The Cavs, meanwhile, snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Orlando 104-103 on Thursday. They'd lost eight of their previous 10 and nine of 12 before edging past the Magic.

Cleveland has gone to three straight NBA Finals and a fourth is expected, but as of now the Cavs are third in the East, six games behind the Boston Celtics.

"This is all part of the story," Wade said. "This is all part of everything that makes the basketball season memorable and what you want. When I first sat up there in front of you guys, I said this is the reason I came here."

Updated January 20, 2018

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