Cavs win seventh straight

Juneau's Boozer scores 22 points, grabs 13 rebounds for Cleveland

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

CLEVELAND - LeBron James turned, fired and banked in a 3-pointer from 25 feet away that probably had no business going in the basket.

Did he call glass?

"After it went through the net," James said with a smile.

And that's how it's going for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who extended their longest winning streak since 1997 to seven games Tuesday night with a 111-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 24 points with 17 rebounds as the Cavs improved to 11-3 since the All-Star break and won their sixth straight at home.

"We're on a high right now, Cloud Nine," James said. "We've just gotta keep bringing it and bringing it every night."

Carlos Boozer of Juneau added 22 points and 13 rebounds for his 31st double-double of the season, and he made a career-high five steals and dished out three assists with no turnovers. James had 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five blocks.

With the win, Cleveland avenged a 92-81 loss to Chicago on March 1 - its last loss since embarking on the club's longest winning streak since getting 10 in a row from Nov. 11-Dec. 11, 1997.

Jamal Crawford had 17 points and Kirk Hinrich 14 for the Bulls, who dropped their seventh straight and fell to an NBA-worst 18-49.

Ilgauskas, the Eastern Conference's reigning player of the week, had his way inside against the Bulls, blocking five shots and tying a career high with 10 offensive rebounds.

The 7-foot-3 center is averaging 23.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in his last five games.

"We were a little bit taller than them and I was able to tap a lot of balls to myself," Ilgauskas said. "Everything seemed to go my way."

And as has been the case during Cleveland's win streak, the trio of Ilgauskas, Boozer and James did most of the damage with point guard Jeff McInnis running the show.

McInnis finished with 17 points and eight assists as the Cavaliers improved to 17-8 since acquiring him from Portland on Jan. 21 for Darius Miles.

"He has been the difference," Cavs coach Paul Silas said before the game. "I didn't know he was this good."

The Bulls trimmed a 14-point deficit to two late in the second quarter, but McInnis hit a long 3-pointer as the Cavs scored five straight points to end the first half.

They opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run to take control, and Ilgauskas scored six points in one stretch to put the Cavaliers ahead 66-51.

"We got manhandled in the paint," said Bulls coach Scott Skiles, who showed his disgust by benching Eddy Curry after just 18 minutes. "It was pretty evident by the numbers, too."

Curry was no match for Ilgauskas on either end of the floor.

"We got murdered tonight," said Curry, who understood why Skiles sat him. "Z killed me. I didn't think about the time I was out there because when I was out there I wasn't doing much."

Cleveland continued to pull away in the second half and when James banked in his 3 with 8:54 left, the Cavs went up 94-67 and Silas decided to play his reserves.

Coming off an impressive win over Eastern power Indiana, the Cavaliers couldn't afford a letdown against the lowly Bulls - and they didn't have one.

"How we won was most important," Silas said. "To win going away as we did keeps this thing rolling."

With the Cavs up 91-67, James drained his lucky 3, flashed three fingers at the Cavs' bench and then ran down one side of the floor to slap hands with fans sitting in the front row.

James nailed a 10-foot jumper in the final second of the first quarter and the Cavs outscored the Bulls 11-2 to start the next period to open a 45-33 lead.

Ilgauskas, who had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter, set the tone for one of the Cavs' easiest wins this season off the opening tap.

Ilgauskas tipped it to James, who passed it to Boozer for an uncontested layup.

"Five guys spectating from the time the ball went up," Skiles said disgustedly. "It was pretty much what happened to us all night long."

Clippers 110, Suns 98

PHOENIX - Quentin Richardson had 32 points and 12 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Phoenix.

The Suns, who played their fourth game in five nights, have to go 7-0 in their final seven games at America West Arena to avoid the first losing record at home since their inaugural season in 1968-69.

Elton Brand scored 27 and Corey Maggette had 23 as the Clippers scored 100 points for the first time in a victory since Feb. 21.

Nets 94, Kings 77

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Rodney Rogers hit his first six shots and the New Jersey Nets showed the Sacramento Kings a thing or two on both offense and defense.

The win ended New Jersey's three-game losing streak against the Kings and went a long way in avenging a 105-92 decision in Sacramento on Nov. 30, a game in which the Kings led 60-28 at the half.

The Nets hit 18 of their first 27 shots from the field and held the Kings to just nine first-quarter points, the lowest quarter of the season for the NBA's top-scoring team.

Heat 96, Hornets 83

MIAMI - Dwyane Wade scored 23 points to lead Miami over New Orleans.

The Heat never trailed and outscored the Hornets 18-11 in the final 9:17 to win their sixth straight home game.

Caron Butler finished with 20 points and Rafer Alston added 17, including a 3-pointer in the first quarter, which set a franchise record for making at least one 3-pointer in 34 consecutive games.

SuperSonics 118, Hawks 110

ATLANTA - Brent Barry scored a season-high 28 points, Ray Allen added 27 and Seattle beat Atlanta Hawks to win two straight for the first time in 24 games.

The Sonics improved to 4-1 in their last five games in Atlanta, but Seattle entered with just one victory in seven games and three of 14 overall.

Stephen Jackson scored 39 points for the Hawks, who have lost six of seven.

Barry had 17 points in the second quarter, as many as the Hawks. He went 4-of-5 on 3-pointers. But Barry didn't score again until his straightaway 3 made it 107-99 with 3:20 remaining.

Trail Blazers 100, Bucks 99

MILWAUKEE - Damon Stoudamire made a fallaway jumper with a second left to lift Portland to its fourth straight win after blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead.

Trailing 99-98, Zach Randolph lost the ball in the lane with 4 seconds to go, but Stoudamire grabbed it and made the winning 12-footer as the shot clock expired.

Joe Smith's jumper for Milwaukee missed as time expired. The Bucks have lost four straight and six of seven,

Derek Anderson and Darius Miles each scored 20 points for Portland.

Michael Redd had 26 points and Desmond Mason added 18 for Milwaukee.

Knicks 114, Wizards 110, OT

NEW YORK - After five overtime defeats, including an excruciating one several days earlier, the Knicks finally won a game that lasted longer than 48 minutes by defeating Washington.

Tim Thomas scored 32 points and Stephon Marbury had 16 points and 14 assists as the Knicks narrowly defeated an opponent that had been struggling all month.

Grizzlies 82, 76ers 79

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Pau Gasol had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and James Posey scored the final four points to lead Memphis over Philadelphia.

Allen Iverson returned to the 76ers starting lineup after missing four games with a bad knee, and two days after he refused to play when interim coach Chris Ford told the star guard he would come off the bench.



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