James scores 25 in Cavaliers' Boston summer league opener

Juneau's Boozer adds 21 points, but Celtics win 87-84

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003

BOSTON - Two dunks, two airballs, two 3-pointers and two blocks were among highly touted rookie LeBron James' stats. Now, he's taking two days off to attend an awards show.

James scored 25 points with nine rebounds and five assists Monday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers played their first game of the Boston summer league, losing to the Celtics 87-84.

James plans to leave Tuesday to fly across the country for an ESPN awards show and then "hopefully" return to Boston in time for the Cavs' game Thursday evening.

"It's an honor to be recognized for the awards I might be receiving out there, so I'm going to pay my respect, thank the fans," James explained. "The fans (are) a big part of me winning one of the things I might win out there, so I'm just giving back to the fans."

Former Juneau-Douglas High School star Carlos Boozer, a second-year power forward for Cleveland, scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Boozer also made two steals, an assist and a block while committing no turnovers for the Cavaliers, who trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter.

James gave a curious overflow crowd at UMass-Boston's 2,500-seat arena a few things to remember - some more flattering than others.

James shot an airball on his first attempt of the night, one possession after he was burned for a layup by Celtics rookie point guard Marcus Banks. James went right back at Banks, but his 15-footer from the left corner was way off-target.

James played his best in the fourth quarter after the Cavs moved him from point guard to shooting guard, making a pair of dunks before ending the night with a banked-in 3-pointer. Unfortunately, the shot that preceded it was another airball.

James graded himself with a "C."

"You only get an "A" when you get a victory," he said.

James' best highlight was a flying one-handed dunk after he used a spin move to get around Boston guard J.R. Bremer, who led the Celtics with 28 points. On defense, he twice blocked shots by Banks. Two other times, however, Banks was able to drive for layups against James despite giving up about 6 inches in height.

Banks finished with 10 points, four assists and four steals, quickly becoming the crowd favorite - although James won over some of the folks who paid $15 per ticket.

The fans also chanted for Lenny Cooke, who tried to make the jump from high school to the pros two years ago but went undrafted. Cooke, who was outplayed by James two years ago at an All-Star game that helped signal that James would be the game's next big star, did not play.

James' 25 points were his most in three summer league games. He played twice for the Cavs last week in Orlando before leaving the team to attend a wedding.

Summer league coach Stephen Silas said the team had no problem with James traveling to California for the ESPYs.

"This is an optional thing for him to be here at all. Summertime is his time. Once September comes and October comes, he's ours," Silas said.

Bucks 76, Knicks 71

T.J. Ford fed Marcus Haislip for an alley-oop dunk to break the game's final tie with about four minutes left.

Ford had 16 points, eight assists and two steals, while Haislip - a first-round draft pick in 2002 - led the Bucks with 19 points and four blocks. Two of those rejections came against Knicks rookies Maciej Lampe and Slavko Vranes, both of whom had poor outings.

Bucks coach George Karl was pleased with the play of Ford, who has become Milwaukee's starter by default following the trade of Cassell to Minnesota and the upcoming departure of Payton to the Lakers through free agency.

"There's a big bulk of point guard minutes on our team, and hopefully we can give him some sort of a comfort zone," Karl said, adding that the Bucks have interest in veteran free agents Travis Best, Kenny Anderson and Kevin Ollie.

Lampe, the 30th overall pick in last month's draft, was 1-for-7 from the field with five fouls and three turnovers in 28 minutes at small forward. Vranes, a 7-foot-5 center, was 0-for-2 with no rebounds and four fouls in 8 minutes.

"It was kind of like a wake-up call. I just played an awful game," the 18-year-old Lampe said. "It was just a terrible game."

One bright spot for the Knicks was first-round draft choice Michael Sweetney, who scored 20 points - 17 in the first half - and grabbed eight rebounds, five on the offensive end. Point guard Frank Williams, a 2002 first-round draft pick, led New York with 23 points and four assists.

Hawks 82, Wizards 50

The Hawks ran off 32 unanswered points in the second half against a Wizards team struggling to learn a new offense.

"Strange things happen in summer league," said Wizards assistant coach Mike O'Koren, who was an assistant in New Jersey under new Washington coach Eddie Jordan.

Rookie Boris Diaw of France had four points, six assists, two steals and five rebounds in 24 minutes for the Hawks, who forced 24 turnovers. Their 32-0 run turned a 35-31 advantage into a 67-31 lead.

"He passed the ball very well, found the open man and made the right basketball play depending on what presented itself in the game," coach Terry Stotts said of Diaw, the 21st overall pick in last month's draft.

Washington forward Kwame Brown, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, had eight turnovers, eight rebounds and 10 points. Wizards center Etan Thomas blocked seven shots.

Nets 86, 76ers 80

Rookie point guard Zoran Planinic of Croatia showed off some precision passing that even Jason Kidd would admire, being credited with seven assists - a total that seemed low - to go with 12 points.

Brian Scalabrine led New Jersey with 20 points, then stuck around to get a glimpse of James. Also in the audience for the Celtics-Cavaliers game was Boston guard Paul Pierce.

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