Cavs finally win

Boozer scores 26 as Cleveland ends 15-game losing streak

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2002

CLEVELAND - It was "Rookie Night" for the Cavs last night at Gund Arena and the youngsters came through like veterans.

First-year players Dajuan Wagner and Carlos Boozer had a big hand in the Cavs' 111-101 win against the Chicago Bulls. The victory snapped a 15-game losing streak for the Cavs (3-17).

The Cavs set single-season highs in points and points in a half. They led 60-45 at halftime.

Wagner, the Cavs' No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft from Memphis and the No. 6 pick overall, tied his career high of 29 points. He had 19 in the first half.

Boozer, a second-round pick from Duke and a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, had a career-high 26 points and added eight rebounds. Ricky Davis, back from his two-game suspension, matched Boozer with 26 points.

The Bulls, who are 4-14 and have lost eight in a row, were led by Jalen Rose (37 points) and Donyell Marshall (20).

Before last night's win, the Cavs' previous victory was Nov. 5 against the Lakers at Gund Arena.

"This is a very, very good win for us," Cavs coach John Lucas said. "We sure needed this and hopefully we can build on this."

With a Christmas morning-like smile, the 19-year-old Wagner said: "It feels great to get my first NBA win. Everyone wanted to get that monkey off their backs."

Wagner was playing in just his sixth game because of a bladder infection, which kept him on the injured list until Nov. 16. But Lucas has always been high on the rookie.

The Carlos Boozer Archive

"Get used to what Juanny did tonight because that is what he can do," Lucas said.

Wagner hit the long-range jumpers, he went to the basket hard and he had the "floater" working.

"I'm a short two-guard," said Wagner, who is averaging 22.2 points. "There are a lot of tall guys out there. I just use (that shot) to get it over them."

Boozer was just as effective, offensively.

"I think every time you play and do well, you get more confidence," Boozer said.

Boozer entered the game averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. In in his past four games, Boozer is averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds.

"If Boozer can have a night like this, this young in his career, it's going to make it hard to take him out of the lineup," Lucas said.

There's a reason why Boozer is playing like a man on a mission.

"I felt like I was a first-round-caliber player," Boozer said. "I'm using it as motivation this year, and probably for my whole career."

Wagner said: "A lot of people stepped on Boozer in the draft and now he's just coming out and playing. He is showing them he's one of the best rookies in the league."

During one stretch in the second quarter, Boozer scored 10 of the Cavs' 13 points as they opened a 15-point halftime lead.

"It feels great to get off that 15-game losing streak and it gives us a chance to go on a different kind of streak," Boozer said.

Rookie free-agent point guard Smush Parker and second-year player DeSagana Diop, the Cavs' No. 1 pick in 2001, also played well and were on the court when the game was on the line.

"All our young guys played great," Lucas said.

The Cavs built a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls fought back and got to within 103-99 with 1:55 left.

The Cavs, however, didn't let this one slip away.

"I thought we got a little tight when (Chicago) began to make their runs, but we were able to withstand their run," Lucas said. "This win was a long time coming."



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