LeBron James scored 37 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 21 to lead the Cavaliers past the Dallas Mavericks, 100-80, yesterday in Cleveland despite the ejection of two players.
The Cavaliers, who led by 20 points in the second quarter, looked like they would implode late in the third quarter when Robert Traylor and Drew Gooden were tossed for arguing Traylor's foul on Jerry Stackhouse.
"LeBron came up right after that and said 'I've got it,' " Cavaliers Coach Brendan Malone said. "When you have a player of his caliber saying 'I've got it,' you got it."
James played every minute for the fourth time in nine games, including two that went to overtime, and is averaging nearly 32 points per game over that span. Yesterday he also had 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Following the ejections, Stackhouse hit four straight free throws to tie the game at 56. Michael Finley added a three-pointer on the next possession to give the Mavericks their first lead.
But Finley was flagged with a technical after getting in an official's face over his foul on a three-point attempt by James, who made all four free throws to make it 60-59 at the end of the period. Asked if that was the pivotal play in the game, Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson responded, "What's the next question?"
The four-point play sparked the crowd and the Cavaliers. Ilgauskas scored eight of the next 11 points on a 13-2 run to open the fourth quarter, making it 69-61 and securing the lead for good.
GRIZZLIES 102, LAKERS 82: In Memphis, fading Los Angeles lost Kobe Bryant and yet another game. Mike Miller scored 22 points to help the Grizzlies move into a tie with idle Denver for seventh place in the Western Conference, 8 1/2 games in front of the 10th-place Lakers. Memphis and Denver are three games ahead of ninth-place Minnesota, which beat Sacramento.
Los Angeles has lost 11 of its past 12 games and eight straight on the road.
The Lakers, already short-handed with Chris Mihm hurt and Lamar Odom placed on the injured list before the game, got limited time from Bryant, who left the game in the second quarter with a right leg injury. Los Angeles also lost Brian Grant in the second quarter to a pair of technicals, leaving the Lakers with a makeshift lineup the rest of the way.
76ERS 97, CELTICS 93: Allen Iverson scored 38 points for visiting Philadelphia, which snapped a three-game losing streak and moved three games behind the Celtics in the NBA's worst division.
"The playoffs have started for a lot of teams and we haven't joined in the fray," said Boston Coach Doc Rivers, hoarse after a game in which his team fell behind by 26 points in the first quarter. "We really don't get it. I'm telling you, we don't."
Paul Pierce had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Raef LaFrentz had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, who were without Antoine Walker (bruised left knee). Rivers said Walker will probably miss tomorrow's game at Washington and perhaps the rest of the week.
TIMBERWOLVES 112, KINGS 100: Kevin Garnett had 30 points and 13 rebounds, Latrell Sprewell added 23 points and Minnesota won its fourth straight regular season game at Sacramento. Minnesota made 53 percent of its shots and took a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter before holding on to extend the longest current winning streak of any opponent at Arco Arena.
WARRIORS 101, SUPERSONICS 92: Jason Richardson scored 22 points and Baron Davis had 19 points and nine assists as host Golden State denied Seattle a chance to clinch the Northwest Division title.
SUNS 91, ROCKETS 78: Shawn Marion had 23 points and 18 rebounds and Joe Johnson added 19 points to lead visiting Phoenix to its fifth straight win.
PISTONS 113, RAPTORS 103: Detroit's Chauncey Billups scored eight of his 26 points during a decisive fourth-quarter run in Toronto. Richard Hamilton added 19 points and nine rebounds and tied a season-high with 11 assists.
BUCKS 106, KNICKS 102: Mo Williams made four free throws and Desmond Mason added another in the final 16 seconds to help Milwaukee hold on to beat visiting New York and snap its eight-game losing streak.
CLIPPERS 111, HAWKS 91: Elton Brand scored a season-high 33 points as Los Angeles earned its second road victory in two months. The loss was the 12th straight for Atlanta and the 25th in its past 26 games.