Series Sweep - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Series Sweep

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's sweeps week in the NBA. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers got in on the act.

The Cavaliers completed a playoff sweep for the first time in franchise history Monday night, beating the Washington Wizards 97-90 with yet another unconvincing performance, doing just enough to beat a depleted team that nearly emptied its bench in the first half.

LeBron James labored through an 8-for-22 shooting night, but he made 14 of 17 free throws to finish with 31 points for the Cavaliers. He also had 11 rebounds and seven assists, including back-to-back assists to Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the decisive final minute.

Ilgauskas finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds, and he and Larry Hughes (19 points) scored 18 of Cleveland's final 20 points.

The Cavaliers became the third Eastern Conference team in three days to finish a first-round sweep. Detroit dismissed Orlando on Saturday, and Chicago ended defending champion Miami's season on Sunday.

The Cavaliers have won only six playoff series in their history, and this series was the first time the franchise has won consecutive road playoff games. The Southeast Division, meanwhile, went 0-12 in the playoffs.

The Cavaliers beat the Wizards in the first round a year ago -- winning three games by one point -- but Washington had Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, who both missed this year's series with injuries. Washington had its season end with a playoff loss on its home court for the third straight year, but this one will be remembered with an asterisk because of the two missing All-Stars.

Once again, Antawn Jamison carried the Wizards, and once again his team came close to pulling the upset.

Washington trailed by one point with less than two minutes to play, but two doses of the James-to-Ilgauskas combination essentially settled the game. In between those two baskets, Jamison had the hard-luck moment of the series when he committed a turnover by dribbling the ball off his left foot.

Jamison finished with 31 points. Darius Songaila scored 12 of his 16 in the fourth quarter, and Antonio Daniels had 13 points and 12 assists for the Wizards, who lost their last eight home games -- six in the regular season and two in the playoffs.

With nothing to lose, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan played everyone except in-the-doghouse center Brendan Haywood in the first half. Calvin Booth got on the floor for the first time this series, and youngsters Andray Blatche and Donell Taylor got their first substantial taste of playing time. The backups, who also included Songaila and Roger Mason, scored all but two of the Wizards' 23 points over a 12-minute stretch.

Songaila embarrassed Anderson Varejo with a drive to the basket to cap a 10-0 run that gave the Wizards an eight-point lead -- their largest yet in the series. By halftime, Washington's bench had 21 points, Jamison had 20, and the other four starters had six.

The Cavaliers, however, did what they have done all series -- play just well enough to stay in position to win. James was only 2-for-10 from the field in the first half, but he made all 10 of his free throws and had nine rebounds. Cleveland made seven fewer field goals than Washington in the first half, but the Cavaliers trailed only 47-44 because they went 16-for-16 from the line.

Consecutive 3-pointers put the Wizards ahead by nine early in the third, but the Cavaliers crawled back slowly and surely. James flung in a layup on a 2-on-3 break to put Cleveland back ahead, and Daniels responded with a layup to give Washington a 67-66 lead going into the fourth.

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