Cavs Ready For Jordan's Best Shot

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - John Lucas was feeling frisky, and who could blame him?

With a stunning 45-4 run over two quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers finally snapped their losing streak at 12 games on Tuesday night with a 114-81 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The perpetually enthusiastic Lucas was proud of his players, who had lost every way imaginable during the Cavs' longest losing skid since 1981-82.

Cleveland's 33-point margin of victory was its highest this season, topping a 19-point win on Nov. 27 over Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards, who'll bring their sideshow to town Thursday night.

"What I had to try to keep selling our team was, 'Keep your mouth shut and keep working hard,'" Lucas said following Tuesday's win. "Our staff, coaches, everybody around has been very positive in this streak. I just told them that's what I expect. We're 1-0 right now.

"Now I'll see if my guys have enough humility to play against that big mouth (Jordan)."

Uh, oh.

Lucas was joking, of course, with his nickname for Jordan. But as the Cavs have had to learn the hard way, Mike isn't taking anything lightly during his comeback.

Last week, Jordan, who seems to relish every chance to stick it to Cleveland teams, scored 40 points in the Wizards' 94-75 win over the Cavs at Washington.

Jordan said it was payback for the way Cavs guard Ricky Davis had acted in the closing moments of Cleveland's win over Washington on Nov. 27.

"I have a long memory," said Jordan. "I remember him (Davis) high-flying and dunking up by 20 points. Those types of things don't go without being noticed. It's not one of those things you want to happen again, so the best way to do that is to get him in foul trouble and sit him down over there, so he can watch us."

Davis and the Cavs got an eyeful of vintage Jordan, who went 18-for-29 -- 7-for-14 in the second half -- from the floor with eight rebounds and zero turnovers.

Jordan also jawed with Davis in the second half, reminding the Cavs' energetic guard to watch himself.

Davis isn't going to back down. The rest of the NBA can fall at Jordan's feet, he's not about to.

"He's got to have somebody he can talk to in the league," Davis said. "Everybody is backing down and not talking to him. As a young player, I've got to accept the challenge. My pride is bigger than anything. I'm going to go out and accept the challenge.

"If he gets 40, it's not like he gets it on nobody else. I'm going to try to come out and be the one who hopefully stops him."

The Cavs have rarely stopped Jordan, who after getting just 18 points in the Nov. 27 loss, assessed the Wizards' performance by saying, "We stink."

Jordan has scored at least 42 points in a game 18 times against Cleveland, and he recorded his career-high 69 against the Cavs on March 28, 1990.

He also made "The Shot" against Cleveland, hitting an off-balance jumper at the buzzer to beat the Cavs in the 1989 playoffs.

Davis, whose mini-feud with Jordan began in the preseason when he was with Miami, will be one of the Cavs assigned to not let Jordan do it to the Cavs yet again.

"It's a great challenge," he said. "Who wouldn't want the challenge to stop Michael Jordan? He's looking for a challenge. Nobody wants to challenge him. So I'm going to challenge him anyway."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)