Cavs drop third in a row

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2004

CLEVELAND - LeBron James struggled to defend Joe Johnson, leading to a third straight loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Johnson tied a career-high with 31 points as the Phoenix Suns hurt Cleveland's playoff hopes with a 103-86 win Tuesday night.

The Cavs' three-game losing streak - all the losses coming at home - was preceded by a seven-game winning streak. Two of the defeats came without point guard Jeff McInnis, but he returned Tuesday night and the Cavaliers still allowed another team to jump out on them early.

The loss left the Cavaliers just a half-game ahead of Boston for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

"The bottom line is what do we have inside. What are we made of?" Silas said. "And we're going to find out very soon."

Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and 11 rebounds in 46 minutes as Phoenix never trailed.

James finished 8-for-21 for 25 points. Juneau-Douglas High School alumnus Carlos Boozer scored 19 and had 14 rebounds.

The Cavaliers lost Zydrunas Ilgauskas after he broke his nose banging into and fouling Stoudemire in the third quarter. Ilgauskas, who had 14 points, planned to see a doctor Wednesday.

"Losing 'Z' was big. He was a big part of us coming back," Boozer said.

The Cavaliers shot a season-low 31 percent while the Suns shot a season-high 57 percent. Johnson shot 14-for-23, with many of his points coming against James.

Hornets 82, Pistons 81

NEW ORLEANS - Jamaal Magloire's last-second jumper gave New Orleans a victory over Detroit, snapping the Pistons' eight-game winning streak.

Chauncey Billups made a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to put Detroit ahead. The Hornets responded by going inside to Magloire, whose first shot was blocked out of bounds by Ben Wallace with 5.3 seconds left.

On the inbounds play, David Wesley went up for a perimeter jumper and Wallace blocked that shot, too, but Magloire grabbed the ball out of the air, turned and swished a jumper. He was mobbed by teammates while several Pistons collapsed onto the court.

Timberwolves 86, Spurs 81

MINNEAPOLIS - Sam Cassell had a triple-double despite being guarded by defensive specialist Bruce Bowen, and Minnesota extended its Midwest Division lead to three games.

Cassell had 14 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the third triple-double of his career and his first this season. He shot just 2-for-11 from the floor but went 10-for-11 from the free throw line, including four crucial foul shots in the final two minutes.

Nets 84, Bulls 81

CHICAGO - Lucious Harris started for the injured Jason Kidd and scored 19 points with three key fourth-quarter baskets.

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 20 points, and he and Harris each had 10 rebounds. The Nets broke a three-game losing streak and are now 1-2 without injured stars Kidd and Kenyon Martin, both of whom have knee injuries.

Grizzlies 95, Raptors 86

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Pau Gasol scored 29 points, Stromile Swift added 21 points and 13 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies forced the Toronto Raptors to miss two-thirds of their shots.

Gasol shot 10-of-16 as Memphis won for the 10th time in 12 games.

Jazz 85, Wizards 77

SALT LAKE CITY - Andrei Kirilenko was all over the stat sheet and engineered a scintillating fourth-quarter sequence that led the Utah Jazz past the Washington Wizards.

Kirilenko had 19 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, seven blocked shots and four steals as the Jazz moved half-game ahead of Denver for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Bucks 112, Kings 101

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Michael Redd scored 26 points and Keith Van Horn had 22 points and 11 rebounds as Milwaukee ended Sacramento's 29-game home winning streak against Eastern Conference teams.

Milwaukee, which had lost five straight and eight of nine, handed the Kings their 20th loss of the season and knocked them a half-game behind Indiana for the league's best record.

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