Playoff Perfect: LeBron, Cavs down Nets
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James continued to amaze in the
playoffs with 36 points and 12 assists, as the Cavaliers remained perfect in
this year’s postseason with a 102-92 victory over New Jersey in Game 2 of
their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Sasha Pavlovic added 17 points for Cleveland, which won its 10th straight
game going back to the regular season. Drew Gooden was a force inside with 10
points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who won Game 1, 81-77, and again used a
big rebounding advantage to win on Tuesday. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 13 points
and nine boards for the Cavaliers, who had a 49-32 advantage in rebounding.
That included a 19-3 margin on the offensive glass.
“That’s been one of our fortes the entire year,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown
said. “Our guys have come up with some big rebounds for us to get us another
possession and get us points like tonight.”
Vince Carter had 26 points for the Nets, who lost despite shooting 52.3
percent from the floor. Jason Kidd ended with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight
assists, but also had eight of New Jersey’s 17 turnovers. Richard Jefferson
had 22 points and eight boards in a losing cause.
“When a team gets 20 more shots and you shoot 52 percent that’s a big deal,”
Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “We can’t just not give away all these extra
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday at Continental Airlines Arena.
The Nets led 81-78 early in the fourth, but James and Larry Hughes hit
consecutive threes. Carter then had the ball stolen by Pavlovic and committed
a foul. Pavlovic made 1-of-2 at the line for an 85-81 lead.
The Nets pulled within 87-85 and had a chance to tie, but Carter missed a pair
of jumpers. James then drove in for a layup with 5:11 left.
“From that point on I think we just started to press on both ends,” Kidd said.
“That played a big part to us falling apart at the end.”
After Mikki Moore missed a shot for the Nets, James zipped a pass into the
lane for Gooden, who jammed with 4:25 left for a 91-85 cushion. The Nets
didn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.
A Carter jumper had the visitors within 93-89 with 2:40 remaining, but Carter
missed another shot to try and get his team within two. Hughes made one foul
shot and James nailed a jumper over Moore for a 96-89 margin with 1:19 left.
Hughes and Ilgauskas each hit two foul shots and James put the final touches
on the win with a jumper for a 102-89 lead.
Hughes ended with 12 points and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot
44.7 percent and missed 13 of their 33 foul shots, but made up for those
shortcomings with hustle and second opportunities.
“We really believe in our defensive schemes,” James said. “Guys know that if
one guys beats his man he’s going to have help. We believe in that. It makes
the offense so much easier.”
Jefferson’s layup capped seven consecutive points for the Nets, who took a
14-9 lead early on. New Jersey was on top 28-24 after one quarter behind 61
Bostjan Nachbar started the second quarter with a three-pointer, but the Cavs
responded with an 8-0 run, grabbing a 32-31 edge on an Anderson Varejao jam.
It remained tight throughout the remainder of the period, with Cleveland
holding a 48-45 lead at the half. The Cavs limited Carter to 2-for-11 shooting
in the opening 24 minutes.
Neither team led by more than four in the third. Kidd nailed consecutive
threes for a 53-50 New Jersey edge, but the Nets gave up the final four points
of the period. James hit a short shot and then nailed two free throws for a
74-73 Cleveland advantage going into the fourth.
James, who made half of his 24 shots from the field, has 19 straight 20-plus
point playoff games to start his career…Cleveland, which swept Washington in
the first round, has won six straight playoff games for the first time in
history…In seven-game series in NBA history, teams that have gone up 2-0 go
on to win the series 94 percent of the time…Moore had 15 points…Carter
ended 10-of-26 from the field…The Cavs were 6-of-23 from three-point range,
compared to 8-of-14 for the Nets…James’ 12 assists are a playoff career-