MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James got his points, but the Miami Heat's
defense late in the game ensured that the rookie sensation will be
watching the playoffs from the sidelines.
Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Miami used a 29-8 run in the
second half to pull away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 106-91
victory that eliminated James and the Cavs from the playoffs.
"We weren't playing defense. Coach kept stressing that and we
knew it," Wade said. "We just really wanted to lock down on
defense and get our transition game going."
A crowd of 20,213, a record for the AmericanAirlines Arena, saw
the surging Heat win their 11th in a row at home. The Heat, who
began the season 0-7, raised their record above .500 (40-39) for
the first time since Oct. 31, 2001.
James kept his team in the game, but the Heat outscored
Cleveland 27-12 in the fourth quarter to kill the Cavs' faint
"I'm not a loser. I'll never be a loser," James said. "It's
hard, it's frustrating when we're playing hard and we lose."
James led Cleveland with 24 points, eight assists and seven
rebounds. The Cavs committed 18 turnovers, eight by James.
Cleveland, which has lost eight straight and 12 of 13, was
without point guard Jeff McInnis, who sat out with a sprained left
ankle, and Eric Williams, who is on the injured list.
"If we had our full team and we were reaching this point, I'd
be sorely disappointed," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "But
being short-handed, it was kind of inevitable."
Miami used 6-foot-7 forward Caron Butler on the 6-8 James for
much of the game, but that didn't hinder James from reaching the
basket and drawing fouls. James went 11-of-15 from the foul line.
"We were trying to lure him into the double team, and I was
trying to push him in certain ways and lead him into charges,"
said Butler, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. "He still was
getting off shots, but we preferred to have other guys shoot the
Odom scored five straight points to give the Heat a 92-86 lead
with 6:23 left, and they never faltered.
"We've come back so many times, we always think we can do it on
the offensive end of the floor, but at some point that's all going
to run out," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said.
James sparked the Cavs, who trailed 50-46 at halftime, with 11
points in the third quarter.
Cleveland led 64-60 with 5:06 left in the third when James got
his own rebound off a missed foul shot, put back the rebound and
was fouled. His foul shot gave the Cavs an eight-point lead.
Miami narrowed it to 74-72 with 2:06 left in the third quarter
on two foul shots by Rafer Alston.
Alston's first quarter 3-pointer gave him an NBA-high 45
straight games with at least one shot made from beyond the arc. He
finished with 16 points.
Miami led 50-46 after a back-and-forth first half, with Jones
leading the way with 15 points and Wade adding nine points and five
With the Heat guaranteed a playoff spot, coach Stan Van
Gundy must set his playoff roster and faces a decision whether to
bring guard Bimbo Coles off the injured list to give the team a
third option at point guard. ... The Heat opened some 3,000 balcony
seats and another 600 standing room only seats ... Cleveland
forward Carlos Boozer, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds, is
guaranteed to average a double-double for the season. He is the
first Cavs player to do so since Tyrone Hill in 1994-95.