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James blazes trail for Cavs victory

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2003

CLEVELAND - LeBron James took complete command at precisely the right time.

Cleveland's rookie scored 32 points, including 12 in a 14-2 spurt that closed the Cavaliers' 86-74 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

James outscored the Trail Blazers all by himself in the fourth quarter, 12-8. He also had 10 rebounds and nine assists, but did not know he was near his first triple-double.

"Somebody should have told me," he said. "Of all the people in the crowd, one of you should have told me."

Former Juneau-Douglas High School power forward Carlos Boozer recorded his 10th double-double of the season and fourth in a row for the Cavs with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

James scored six straight points to put Cleveland ahead 78-72 with 5:48 to play, then capped the 14-2 run with the final six points of the game - the last two on a resounding reverse dunk with 34 seconds left after stealing the ball from Damon Stoudamire near midcourt.

"I pretty much knew it was over and I had an opportunity to stroll around like a big bull," said James, who waved to the crowd when Portland called a timeout.

"When I heard the crowd after that dunk, I had to stop and say, 'Is this really Gund Arena?' I'm just trying to bring more excitement."

He's also bringing more wins.

James shot 15-for-23 from the field as the Cavaliers won their 10th game - something that didn't happen last season until Feb. 5.

"Any time there's a close game they look at me as a leader and it's time for me to take over," he said. "I wasn't going to let us lose."

Zach Randolph scored 20 points and Rasheed Wallace added 17 for the Trail Blazers, the only NBA team without a road win (0-10). Portland's eight-point fourth quarter was the lowest-scoring final period in team history.

James began the game-ending spurt by hitting an off-balance jumper from the corner, then drove aggressively to the basket 50 seconds later.

"Before, he wouldn't do that, but he's definitely learning that if he's got a little guy on him, he should just take it to the hoop strong," Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said.

Leading 76-72, James called for the ball on the left baseline and posted up against Randolph. When Stoudamire came over to help, James spun to his right and split the double-team to score.

"He defended, he made shots, he basically did whatever he wanted," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said of James.

Darius Miles scored six points as Cleveland opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run.

Miles, who had not played in four games before scoring 11 points off the bench in a loss to Chicago on Friday night, started at forward and scored 10 points.

"D. Miles played very well," Silas said. "He was really focused the whole way."

Cleveland's starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas shot 3-for-4 and blocked two shots in the first 10 minutes - then did not play again. Before the game, Silas said he wanted to see a better defensive effort from the 7-foot-3 center.

When Ilgauskas went to the bench, he appeared to have a brief exchange of words with Silas.

"There's no problem," Silas said. "We wanted to go with guys who could keep up. (Portland) was really quick."

Suns 100, 76ers 92

PHOENIX - Stephon Marbury scored 16 of his 17 points in the first half to stake Phoenix to a 19-point lead, and the Suns held on.

Shawn Marion scored 26 points and Joe Johnson added 23 for the Suns, who snapped a three-game losing streak. The win was just the Suns' third in their last 13 games.

Nuggets 103, Warriors 79

DENVER - Marcus Camby's 17 points led seven Denver players in double figures to help the Nuggets to their third straight win.

Denver overcame a miserable first quarter to shoot 46 percent for its 11th win in 13 home games. The Nuggets beat the Warriors for the third straight time to clinch a season series against a Western Conference team for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Lakers 105, Celtics 82

LOS ANGELES - Shaquille O'Neal had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and six of his teammates scored in double figures.

The Lakers (21-7) snapped a two-game losing streak in winning for only the third time in seven games following a 10-game winning streak.

Kings 98, Jazz 89

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Peja Stojakovic scored 20 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Sacramento Kings snap a two-game losing streak.

Following a subpar three quarters, Stojakovic made three 3-pointers and a three-point play during a productive four-minute stretch to help the Kings pull away. Stojakovic added seven rebounds and a career-high six steals.

Spurs 89, Bucks 74

SAN ANTONIO - Manu Ginobili scored 25 points and San Antonio's defense held Milwaukee to a season-low point total in the Spurs' 13th straight win.

The Bucks trailed 66-63 with more than 10 minutes remaining before the Spurs held them without a basket for nearly six minutes while scoring 14 points of their own. By the time Michael Redd drove for a layup with 4:38 left, San Antonio's lead was 80-67.

Raptors 94, Clippers 88

LOS ANGELES - Jalen Rose had 23 points and Vince Carter scored seven of his 22 points in the final 3:44 to help the Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Clippers.

Donyell Marshall had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who ended an 18-game road losing streak against Western Conference opponents.



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