James continues blistering play to stop streaking Nets
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – LeBron James poured in 18 of his 37
points in the fourth quarter to lead Cleveland to a 108-102 win over New
Jersey at Continental Airlines Arena and halt the Nets winning streak at 14
games, one short of the team record.
“I knew this was going to be a great game,” said James after the win. “We just
made the best plays at the end of the game.”
Drew Gooden added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who won for
the 10th time in 11 outings and remain firmly entrenched in the fourth spot of
the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Larry Hughes and Flip Murray each
recorded 15 points while Anderson Varejao had 11 in the win.
“Our team has shown grit all year,” said Cleveland coach Mike Brown. “We have
been down but we haven’t been out. We figure out ways to get victories and you
have to be encouraged by that.”
Vince Carter netted 33 points for the Nets, who fell 3 1/2 games back of
the Miami Heat for the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Richard Jefferson contributed 20 points and 10 boards and Jason Kidd had 11
points and dished out 10 assists in the loss.
“James is a great player,” said Carter. “He shares the ball for 3 1/2 quarters
and then takes over in the final six minutes. He was phenomenal.”
The Nets took a six-point lead into the final frame and continued to hold
Cleveland at arm’s length until the Cavs made a run midway through the
After Jacque Vaughn’s driving layup, with 8:26 left, made it 84-76, the
Cavaliers went on an 11-4 run to draw within one-point. Murray’s driving lay-
in made the score 88-87 with 5:55 on the clock.
Less than a minute later, Kidd responded with a huge three to give the Nets
some breathing room, 91-87.
Another Kidd bucket, with 3:46 left, put New Jersey up by six points again,
95-89, but Cleveland continued to hang around.
Donyell Marshall buried a three and James followed with two from the line to
make the score 95-94 with 2:26 on the clock.
The Nets hung tough, however, and attacked the basket. Carter and Jefferson
sandwiched a James’ miss with back to back trips to the line and each player
connected on a pair to make it 99-94 with 1:55 remaining.
The Cavs still had one last burst in them and tied the contest with seven of
the game’s next nine points. After Murray and Carter traded buckets, Gooden
hit two from the charity stripe and James stunned the crowd with an acrobatic
three-point play to deadlock things at 101 with 50 ticks left.
Carter missed two jumpers that would have put the Nets back on top and Nenad
Krstic then fouled Varejao while going for an offensive rebound. The youngster
calmly stepped to line and hit both free throws to put Cleveland on top,
103-101, with just 30 seconds on the clock.
This time, Carter didn’t settle for the jumper and attacked the basket. But,
the former North Carolina star made just 1-of-2 free throws and the score was
103-102 with 23.7 seconds left.
The Nets were forced to foul and quickly grabbed James with 21.3 seconds left.
The superstar drilled both from the stripe to extend the Cavs advantage to
Carter then took an ill-advised long three from the top with 18 ticks left
that came up way short.
Cleveland managed to hit its free throws in the final seconds to secure the
The Cavs took a slim 27-26 edge after the first 12 minutes of play. Carter was
a blistering 6-of-7 for 15 points in the opening frame.
The Nets took control by intermission with a 56-51 advantage and stretched the
lead to 78-72 by the end of the third frame.
Krstic had 18 points for the Nets…New Jersey had won nine in a row at home.
They are now 28-10 at Continental Airlines Arena this season…James has
scored 35-plus points in nine consecutive games…This was the Nets first loss
all season after taking the lead into the final frame. New Jersey was 36-0
when leading after three quarters coming into the game.