Cavs close out home schedule with a win

Juneau's Boozer scores 18 points, grabs eight rebounds in Cleveland's victory

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2004

CLEVELAND - LeBron James yanked off his game jersey, kicked off his sneakers and walked to midcourt in his socks to hand the items over to some lucky fans.

A few minutes earlier, James had given the home crowd another night to savor - and even more to look forward to.

"I didn't want to go out like that, losing the last home game," James said.

Cleveland's sensational rookie scored 27 points as the Cavaliers won their home finale, 93-89 over Milwaukee on Monday night, denying the Bucks a chance to move closer to gaining home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was Cleveland's 34th victory, doubling the team's win total from last season.

The Bucks (41-40), who had their opportunities down the stretch, have one game remaining against Toronto. The Bucks would win a tiebreaker over Miami (41-40) but not over New Orleans (40-41), which lost to New York.

"This hurts," Keith Van Horn said. "It was in our hands and we lost that opportunity. Now we've got to go out and win and hope the others lose."

Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists for Cleveland. Boozer is guaranteed to average a double-double in points and rebounds this year, making him the first Cavalier since Tyrone Hill in 1994-95 to do so.

Next season can't get here fast enough for Cleveland.

"I don't see any reason why we can't make the playoffs next season," Boozer said. "We had five or seven games that we probably should have won this year. We probably could have had 40 wins."

James' breakaway dunk with 1:06 to go put the Cavaliers ahead to stay, 88-87. After Michael Redd missed two shots, Jeff McInnis hit a jumper and James made a free throw to give Cleveland a 91-87 lead.

Van Horn's layup cut it to two with 11.7 seconds to play.

Forced to foul, the Bucks put Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the line and the Cavs' 7-foot-3 center made both tries for a 93-89 lead with 10.6 seconds left.

Milwaukee's final shot clanged off the rim and was ripped down with one arm by James, who added nine assists and seven rebounds in front of 20,562 fans - the 16th sellout crowd this season at Gund Arena.

The Gund was one of the quietest and emptiest buildings in the league before James' arrival. But those days are over for the Cavaliers (34-47), who have doubled their win total from last season despite falling from playoff contention with a recent losing streak.

"Coming in we didn't really have a (win) total," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "But doubling our total from last season sends a message that we are going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future."

Cleveland's jump in average home attendance - nearly 60 percent - is the largest since the league began tracking it in 1981.

The Cavs close out the season on Wednesday in New York.

Nuggets 97, Kings 89

DENVER - Marcus Camby had 12 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots to help the Nuggets reach the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

With stars including Michael Jordan, Tyra Banks and Lionel Richie in the stands, the Nuggets outhustled and outshot the Kings. The win secured the eighth spot in the Western Conference for a team that won just 17 games last season.

Guard Jon Barry waved a towel and danced along the sideline in the closing seconds, and coach Jeff Bzdelik celebrated by pumping his first and yelling "Yes! Yes! Yes!" to the crowd.

Timberwolves 104, Jazz 90

MINNEAPOLIS - Latrell Sprewell scored 24 points, showing some familiar feistiness in a critical game for both clubs.

Kevin Garnett posted his 71st double-double - 21 points and 17 rebounds - for the Timberwolves, who won their eighth straight and stayed on track for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If they win at Memphis on Wednesday night, they get it.

Spurs 78, Trail Blazers 66

PORTLAND, Ore. - Tim Duncan had 14 points and 15 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to their 10th straight victory as Portland was eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.

San Antonio, which swept the season series against the Trail Blazers for the first time in franchise history, moved into second place in the Western Conference. The defending NBA champions remained a game back of Minnesota in the Midwest Division.

Rockets 111, SuperSonics 107

SEATTLE - Mark Jackson made a rare start and scored a season-high 25 points as Houston locked up the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Jackson, who signed with Houston as free agent on Jan. 15, entered the game with a 1.9-point scoring average and had made only three of his 33 3-point attempts this season. He made three from beyond the arc and shot 14-of-17 from the free throw line.

Knicks 101, Hornets 97

NEW ORLEANS - Reserves Moochie Norris and Michael Sweetney each scored 11 fourth-quarter points as the New York Knicks overcame a 10-point deficit in the final period.

New York coach Lenny Wilkens limited starter Stephon Marbury to only 12 minutes. So Norris, who has averaged under 12 minutes of playing time and 3.9 points since joining the Knicks from Houston, ended up playing 40 minutes and scoring a team-high 21 points.

Magic 93, Bulls 84

CHICAGO - Juwan Howard scored a season-high 38 points to help the Orlando Magic snap a 13-game losing skid.

Howard scored 10 straight during a 13-0 run in the third quarter that gave the Magic 66-47 lead. He had eight in a row in the fourth quarter to put the game away after Chicago cut its deficit to eight.

Hawks 129, Nets 107

ATLANTA - Bob Sura became the first NBA player in seven years to have three straight triple-doubles, and the Atlanta Hawks won three in a row for the first time this season by beating the listless New Jersey Nets.

Pacers 107, 76ers 93

PHILADELPHIA - Jermaine O'Neal scored 28 points to help Indiana set a single-season record for wins.

Pistons 101, Wizards 79

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Mike James scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half as the Detroit Pistons broke open a close game to win their eighth in a row.

Heat 84, Celtics 77

BOSTON - Lamar Odom had 28 points and 11 rebounds to help the Miami Heat retain a chance to open the playoffs at home.



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