Sunday , May , 06 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

LeBron lifts Cavs over Nets in Game 1

Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James shook off a cold to score 21
points, pull down 11 rebounds and dish out seven assists as Cleveland edged
New Jersey, 81-77, in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal
series at Quicken Loans Arena.

Larry Hughes added 17 points, six helpers and four steals for the Cavaliers,
who were coming off a sweep of Washington in the first round.

Sasha Pavlovic chipped in with 15 points while Drew Gooden had 14 points
and 14 rebounds for Cleveland, which dominated the backboards with a 51-37
overall edge and a 20-9 advantage on the offensive glass.

“A couple of days ago, I started not felling too well,” said James. “But, it’s
the playoffs and you have to battle through it. No matter what it took, I was
going to be out on the court helping my teammates get a win. I hope I can just
continue to get well and continue to get my strength back.”

Vince Carter tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists but shot just 7-
of-23 from the floor for the Nets, who knocked out the Toronto Raptors in six
games during the first round. Richard Jefferson finished with 16 points while
Bostjan Nachbar had 12 points off the bench.

Jason Kidd flirted with a triple-double, scoring seven points, grabbing 10
rebounds and dishing out nine assists but shot a miserable 2-of-11 from the
field.

“We knew (offensive rebounding) was something that we had to focus on and they
had 20 of them,” Kidd said. “We have to address that tomorrow and look at the
film. They had quite a few possessions where they had multiple shots.”

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland.

The game was even heading into the final frame and Kidd quickly tried to set
the tone by draining a three from the left wing to make it a 62-59 game.

But, Cleveland didn’t waver. A Zydrunas Ilgauskus lay-in deadlocked things
again at 67 with 8:36 left. Nearly four minutes later, a Hughes triple put
the Cavs in front, 74-69.

The Nets looked like they would get right back into it with under two minutes
left. Kidd made steal and looked like he was headed for an uncontested layup
but Pavlovic swooped in from behind to swat the ball away.

“I lost the ball on that pass and I just didn’t give up on the play,” Pavlovic
said. “It was very important. I knew Jason probably was not going to dunk so I
just followed him and tried to get the ball.”

New Jersey kept battling back, however, and Carter drained a pair from the
line to draw the Nets within a bucket with just 32 ticks left.

James had the answer, however. The superstar took Kidd on the blocks for a
running jumper with 19.5 seconds left. Then, he tortured Jefferson at the
other end, blocking a shot and eating up precious seconds. The Nets finally
got the ball back but Jefferson rimmed a three as time expired.

“It was a hard fought game,” said Cavs coach Mike Brown. “Our guys did a
terrific job fighting and getting stops down the stretch.”

The Cavs spread the ball around nicely in the first quarter and led 23-20
after the opening 12 minutes.

New Jersey rebounded with the first significant run of the game to open the
second quarter. The Nets ran off a 13-2 spurt, capped by a Josh Boone lay-in,
to see-saw on top, 33-25, with just under eight minutes until intermission.

Cleveland finished strongly, however. The Cavs outscored New Jersey 18-8 the
rest of the way. Hughes’ jumper finished the scoring in the frame with
Cleveland holding a precarious two-point edge, 43-41.

Things remained tight throughout the third quarter. Mikki Moore got loose on
the baseline for a driving dunk that put the Nets on top, 57-54, with 3:55
left in the stanza.

The Cavs came right back again and deadlocked things at 59 heading to the
final frame.

Game Notes

The Nets shot just 37 percent in the game…This is the third time the
Cavaliers and New Jersey are meeting in the postseason. Cleveland defeated
the Nets twice in the first round. The Cavs knocked out the Nets in
four, 3-1, in 1992 and in five, 3-2, in 1993…Cleveland is 2-2 all-
time in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Cavaliers defeated
Washington in seven games in 1976 and beat the Celtics in seven in 1992.
They were swept by the Bulls in 1993 and lost in seven to Detroit last
year…The Nets have lost their last two trips to the Eastern Conference
semifinals. They were ousted in seven by Detroit in 2004 and in five by
Miami last season. New Jersey is 2-3 all-time in the East semis.

CLE NJN