Cavs edge Nets to take 3-1 series lead
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – LeBron James scored 30 points, grabbed
nine rebounds and dished out seven assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers
over the New Jersey Nets, 87-85, in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference
semifinal series at Continental Airlines Arena.
James scored just four points in the fourth quarter, going just 2-for-6 from
the free throw line, as the Cavs survived to take a commanding 3-1 lead in
this best-of-seven series.
Larry Hughes added 19 points for Cleveland, which can close out New Jersey in
Game 5 back at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday. Zydrunas Ilgauskas registered
13 points and 11 boards for the Cavs, who won despite not hitting a shot from
the field over the final 2 1/2 minutes.
Vince Carter had 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to lead New Jersey,
but with a chance to tie the game he lost the ball out of bounds with 1.9
Mikki Moore also had 25 points, a career playoff-high, for the Nets, who had
won Game 3 after dropping the first two games of this series. Richard
Jefferson added 15 points and Jason Kidd was held to five points, but grabbed
a career-playoff best 17 rebounds and dished out seven assists for New Jersey,
which also had trouble scoring down the stretch.
After Moore’s three-point play with 6:58 left, the Nets went cold from the
field and the Cavs took advantage. Two free throws by Sasha Pavlovic and his
lay-in with 4:51 left gave Cleveland a 79-78 lead.
Drew Gooden then connected on a pair of two free throws for an 81-78 edge and
the cushion later grew to 86-80 after Anderson Varejao hit two free throws
with 2:06 left.
Carter answered by hitting 5-of-6 free throws, draining a pair with 11.4
seconds left to make it an 86-85 contest.
James then hit 1-of-2 from the line with 10.3 seconds left to make it a two-
point game, 87-85.
Then, after a timeout, Carter had the ball knocked out of his hands as he
attempted to set himself up for the final shot. He then dove to the floor and
was the last to touch it before going out of bounds.
The Cavs inbounded the ball to end the game.
“There was a lot of hands,” said Carter of the final play. “I thought there
was a foul, but that’s just the way it goes in the end. It they’re going to
put the ball in my hands. I have to make a play. I tried to pick it up and
throw it to (Kidd) in the corner, but I couldn’t get my hands on it clean
enough to get it to him.”
Carter shot just 6-for-23 for the game for the Nets, who have never rebounded
to win a best-of-seven series after falling behind 3-1.
“I tried to do was make it tough for him to get a clean shot,” said Cavs guard
Eric Snow, who drew the assignment of guarding Carter on the final possession.
“I wanted to make my hands active and I was fortunate enough to flip he ball
away and get the turnover.
“It’s all about doing what you can to help the team win.”
The first half was close throughout. Cleveland led 20-19 after one quarter and
extended to 27-24 after a James free throw 2:22 into the second quarter. New
Jersey answered with a 10-2 run to go ahead by five points, 34-29, following a
Jefferson three-pointer with 6:38 left until the break.
Cleveland later grabbed a 40-39 edge after a James lay-up with 3:11 on the
clock, but the Nets went into halftime with a 46-42 advantage.
New Jersey went ahead 50-42 early in the third, but Cleveland went on an 18-3
run. Hughes had seven points and James eight during the burst, which James
ended with a jumper at the 6:18 mark for a 60-53 cushion.
The Nets battled back to later tie the game at 69 when Kidd hit a three-
pointer with 56 seconds left. However, Gooden hit a pair of free throws with
26 ticks remaining sending the Cavs into the fourth with a 71-69 edge.
“We wanted to try and control tempo as much as possible,” said James. “We did
a great job of that in the third quarter, controlling tempo and getting easy
shots. That third quarter was a big quarter for us. That helped us win the
With 8:48 left in the third quarter, tempers flared when Moore committed a
hard foul on Pavlovic during a lay-up attempt. Pavlovic immediately got up and
confronted Moore, who after discussion by the officials was hit with a
flagrant foul. Pavlovic was hit with a technical for his actions…Pavlovic
had nine points…New Jersey shot 36 percent from the floor for the
game…Cleveland hit 41.5 percent of its shots…Both teams hit five
three-pointers…The Cavs added two more free throws, going 28-of-37 compared
to 26-of-32 for the Nets…Only 8-of-162 teams have come back from 3-1
deficits in NBA history. The last to do it were the Suns last season in the
first round over Lakers.