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LeBron goes off for 41

Posted: Sunday, March 28, 2004

CLEVELAND The Chosen One picked the perfect night to play the best game of his career.

LeBron James scored a career-high 41 points and lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers out of a four-game losing streak.

James scored the Cavaliers' final 10 points to overtake the New Jersey Nets in the closing seconds for a 107-104 win Saturday night.

''I hate losing. I don't like losing. I seized the opportunity for us to win and I was able to capture it,'' said James, who became the youngest player to score 40 or more points in an NBA game.

James scored the winning basket with 16 seconds left after tipping a pass by Richard Jefferson. Kedrick Brown grabbed the deflection and got it to James who drove half the court for a left-handed layup, making it 105-104.

After Jefferson missed a jumper on the next possession, James got a long rebound and again drove to the hoop. He slammed the final points home with two seconds left, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy.

Kerry Kittles clanked a long 3-pointer off the iron as time expired.

The Cavaliers moved into a tie with Boston for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

James also had a career-high 13 assists along with six rebounds and three steals. He was 15-for-29 from the field and 10-for-10 on free throws.

Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said it was by far James' best performance.

''We needed a big night from him and he just carried us,'' Silas said. ''He just was simply awesome. He did everything we needed to get the victory.''

The Cavaliers had not won since point guard Jeff McInnis bruised his right shoulder March 16 against Chicago. He was placed on the injured list before the game.

Dressed in street clothes, McInnis ran onto the court and embraced James as confetti fell from the ceiling. Zydrunas Ilgauskas threw his protective face mask in the air in celebration.

The media huddled around an empty chair at James' locker after the game. He came up behind them and joked, ''Where's LeBron?''

Cavaliers center Tony Battie later came over and jokingly asked James what it felt like to score his first 40-point game.

''Oh man, you know it was exciting,'' James responded, laughing. ''I was able to bring back my team.''

James was involved in practically every score down the stretch, either driving to the basket or dishing off to Carlos Boozer, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Ilgauskas scored 17 with 10 rebounds.

''Regardless of his age, he's a special player,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. ''He obviously had a great sense of urgency.''

Jefferson had a season-high 35 points for the Nets. He shot 12-for-20 and kept hitting jumpers to maintain New Jersey's lead.

But the Cavaliers went on a 10-3 run to tie it at 96 with 3:15 left on a pass from James underneath to Boozer. Brown hit a free throw to make it 97-96, giving Cleveland its first lead since six minutes left in the first half.

New Jersey took a 104-99 lead when Jefferson was fouled on a drive, missed the free throw on a three-point play and Rodney Rogers put in the rebound.

Kittles had 24 points, and Lucious Harris had 19 for the Nets.

It was the Nets' fourth loss in five games without Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin. Kidd has a bone bruise in his left knee and Martin has left knee tendinitis.

Down by 11 in the third period, Cleveland started a run of six straight points from Boozer. James took over with a steal and a dunk, then made four free throws after two hard fouls from Jason Collins.

Hawks 97, Bulls 88

ATLANTA Stephen Jackson scored 27 points and Jason Terry added 26 to help Atlanta win consecutive games for just the second time this season with a victory over Chicago.

On Thursday, Atlanta beat New Orleans 84-76. The Hawks beat Minnesota and Boston in back-to-back games in early February for their first two-game winning streak.

Jannero Pargo came off the bench to score 14 points and reserve Marcus Fizer led the Bulls with 15 points.

Bob Sura had 15 points for Atlanta.

Pistons 100, Knicks 85

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Tayshaun Prince scored 20 points and Richard Hamilton added 18 to lift Detroit over short-handed New.

Detroit played without Rasheed Wallace (back), but the Knicks were down to just nine healthy players with Allan Houston (left quadriceps), Penny Hardaway (groin) and Tim Thomas (groin) all sidelined.

Ben Wallace added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who ended a two-game losing streak, while Chauncey Billups had 11 points and 13 assists.

DerMarr Johnson led the Knicks with 17, and Vin Baker added 16, his highest point total since joining New York.

Spurs 105, Spurs 76

SAN ANTONIO Hedo Turkoglu and Tim Duncan had 14 points each and San Antonio routed Phoenix.

The Spurs took control early against the lowly Suns, opening the game with a 18-5 run. San Antonio shot 57 percent and grabbed 16 rebounds en route to a 31-13 lead after one quarter.

Tony Parker added 12 for the Spurs, who gave their starters plenty of rest. Amare Stoudemire led the Phoenix with 20 points but shot just 8-of-19 from the field, including 1-of-6 to start the game.

Jazz 85, Nuggets 83

SALT LAKE CITY Carlos Arroyo made a 12-foot jumper as time expired to help Utah move a game up on Denver in the Western Conference playoff.

After the Nuggets were called for a foul with 1.2 seconds left, Raja Bell waited for players to clear on the inbounds play and found Arroyo wide open on the right wing for the game-winner.

Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 25 points but made just one free throw in the last 10:33 of the game. Rodney White scored 14 and Earl Boykins added 13 for Denver, which has lost six of its last seven on the road.

Gordan Giricek scored 14 points and Andrei Kirilenko contributed 13 points and five blocked shots for the Jazz, who have won six of seven at home.

Timberwolves 98, Clippers 82

LOS ANGELES Latrell Sprewell scored 18 points, Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 15 rebounds and Minnesota completed a four-game season sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The victory gave the Midwest Division-leading Timberwolves back-to-back 50-win seasons, after setting a club-record last season with 51.

Elton Brand's 22 points and rookie Chris Kaman's career-high 19 points and 12 rebounds couldn't prevent a season-worst seventh straight defeat for the Clippers. They have dropped 15 of 17 and five straight at home.

Trail Blazers 115, SuperSonics 108, OT

PORTLAND, Ore. Zach Randolph had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the Portland over Seattle in overtime.

Damon Stoudamire added 23 points and eight assists to help Portland improve to 8-3 in its last 11 games.

Ray Allen had 32 points for the Sonics, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped. Rashard Lewis added 24 points, and Ronald Murray had 19.



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