Cavaliers rally to beat Hornets 104-100

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2004

CLEVELAND In four days, they've beaten the defending NBA champions, won at Madison Square Garden and rallied from 25 points down for a victory.

Suddenly, there seems to be nothing these Cleveland Cavaliers can't do.

''This is sweet,'' guard Jeff McInnis said. ''I've never come back from so far down before.''

LeBron James scored 21 points, fellow rookie Jason Kapono added a season-high 19 and the Cavaliers rallied from a 25-point deficit Monday night for a 104-100 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Carlos Boozer had 24 points, and McInnis added 14 and nine assists for the Cavs, who have won three straight at home against San Antonio and New Orleans and at New York since last Friday.

After starting the season 6-19, enduring turmoil and two major trades, Cleveland is within 1 1/2 games of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

''I've never been around a group that has jelled,'' first-year coach Paul Silas said. ''This was sweet. We want to keep this thing going.''

James also had a basket, steal and rebound in the final 1:19 as Cleveland completed one of the biggest comebacks in its 35-year history.

Neither the Cavs nor the Elias Sports Bureau could determine if it was the Cavs' largest comeback, but there's no disputing it was one of their most improbable.

''When we were behind by 25, no one in their right mind thought we would come back,'' said Kapono, who went 5-for-5 on 3-pointers after not playing in Sunday's win at New York.

Only once before had the Hornets blown a 25-point lead. They also did it on March 1, 1996, at Minnesota.

The Cavaliers were down 49-24 with 6:34 left in the second quarter, but trimmed it to 14 by halftime and four by the end of the third before finally taking the lead at 83-82 on McInnis' short jumper with 7:42 to play.

But as has been the case with most of their games this season, this one went to the final horn as Baron Davis hit a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left to get the Hornets to 102-100.

However, Boozer made two free throws with 5.1 seconds left, and with the lead seemingly safe, Silas raised his right fist in the air to celebrate a win over the team that fired him after last season.

Pistons 76, 76ers 66

PHILADELPHIA Richard Hamilton scored 15 points and Tayshaun Prince added 14, leading Detroit over Philadelphia.

Ben Wallace had 12 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, and Rasheed Wallace added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, who had lost eight of nine.

Kenny Thomas had 10 points and 18 rebounds for Philadelphia, which was without Allen Iverson because of a shoulder injury.

Trail Blazers 89, Heat 81

MIAMI Zach Randolph had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Derek Anderson added 20 points to lead Portland past Miami.

The Trail Blazers opened the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run and won their fourth straight, snapping Miami's four-game winning streak.

Grizzlies 109, Nuggets 106

MEMPHIS, Tenn. James Posey scored 20 points, including 13 during a fourth-quarter rally, and Memphis defeated Denver in a matchup of two of the NBA's most improved teams.

Shane Battier's block of Carmelo Anthony's putback attempt with 7 seconds left prevented Denver from taking the lead. Posey grabbed the blocked shot, was fouled and converted the free throws to seal Memphis' fifth straight victory.

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