WASHINGTON (AP) - LeBron James produced when the Cleveland
Cavaliers needed him in the fourth quarter. Gilbert Arenas wasn't
there to do the same for the Washington Wizards.
Never was the impact of the loss of a superstar move evident
than in the Cavaliers' 99-94 victory over the Wizards on Friday
James had a poor shooting game, but he attacked the basket down
the stretch and scored 14 of his 25 points in the final period to
help the Cavaliers stay tied with Chicago for second place in the
With Cleveland holding a two-point lead with less than 3 minutes
to play, James made a jumper and drove for a one-handed dunk to
increase the lead to six. He also made 6 of 7 free throws in the
"I definitely didn't have one of my best games offensively,"
said James, who went 7-for-23 from the field and had six rebounds
and five assists. "But I tried to attack late in the game, and
guys just came and stepped up."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 points and eight rebounds for the
Cavaliers, who remained inconsistent as they jockey for playoff
seeding. Cleveland has alternated wins and losses over its last 10
"It was a gut-check game for us," Cleveland coach Mike Brown
said. "I thought we were flat in the first half. They got what
they wanted on the offensive end in the first half. I thought we
stepped it up a notch in the second half."
For the Wizards, inconsistency would be an improvement. Right
now, they just need to prove they can win without their two
Leading scorer Arenas had surgery Thursday on the knee he
injured in the first quarter of Wednesday's loss to Charlotte, and
heart-and-soul leader Caron Butler broke a bone in his hand Sunday
against Milwaukee. Neither will return unless the team advances
deep into the postseason.
The Wizards would have clinched a playoff berth with a win, and
for much of the game they did their best to lift some of the doom
and gloom has surrounded them since Arenas' injury. They led by 10
in the third quarter, but they lost their third straight and fell
2½ games behind the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Southeast
"It is tough," guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "Because for the
first 74 games we had him there for the fourth quarter, so now we
have to rely on other people. This was our first game without
Gilbert, and we just have to be more aggressive toward the end."
Antawn Jamison finished with 27 points, but only six came after
halftime. Antonio Daniels had 18 points and 12 assists, and Etan
Thomas scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Without Arenas, coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense looked
more like a true Princeton offense, with the Wizards attempting
backdoor cuts in an organized share-the-ball attack. Point guard
Daniels piled up the assists, and Jamison became the go-to guy - a
role he hasn't played regularly since his days at Golden State -
but Arenas wasn't there to make the clutch plays when it mattered
"We competed at a high level," Jordan said. "We held LeBron
to a low field goal percentage, and we scored 99 points. Those are
positives, but we want to win. We don't want to just have good
numbers - we want to win."
James had a quiet first half, making only three of 10 shots with
one rebound. He also had a one-handed driving dunk attempt blocked
by Thomas. Jamison seven consecutive points in a 9-0 run that gave
the Wizards a 53-45 lead at the break.
But the Cavaliers rallied in the third quarter with their inside
game. Ilgauskas had a pair of dunks and Drew Gooden had one in an
11-0 run that overcame the 10-point deficit.
The Cavaliers also took care of the ball after a sloppy first
half. They committed only two of their 12 turnovers after halftime.
Washington finished with 23 turnovers.
Notes: James passed the 2,000-point mark for the season. He and
Arenas are the only players with a current streak of 2,000 in three
consecutive seasons. ... James also got his 2,000th career assist.