Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/7

Game 1: Tuesday, December 7th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 22nd
Game 3: Sunday, February 27th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 5th

Nets 97

(5-13, 1-7 away)

Cavaliers 103

(12-6, 8-1 home)

Coverage: FSOH

7:00 PM ET, December 7, 2004

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 23 21 32 2197
CLE 28 25 26 24103

Top Performers

New Jersey: R. Jefferson 27 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Cleveland: L. James 27 Pts, 2 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

Harris' 3 seals it for Cavs

CLEVELAND (AP) -- As usual, LeBron James made the crucial steal, the monster dunk and the perfect pass. He left the clinching shot for Lucious Harris.

"Nobody on this team wanted that shot more than Lucious," James said.

James scored 27 points and assisted on Harris' 3-pointer with 6 seconds left as the first-place Cleveland Cavaliers won their eighth straight at home, 103-97 over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.

At 12-6, the Cavaliers have the best record in the NBA's Eastern Conference -- the first time they've had that distinction after 15 games since March 21, 1989, when they were 48-17 and James was 4 years old.

There's a long way to go this season, but Cleveland is looking more and more like a legitimate power -- and James is the biggest reason why.

"You expect something from him every night that he's going to do to help you win," Cavs coach Paul Silas said. "And that's who he is."

James, who added eight assists, was asked if the rest of the league is taking the Cavaliers' fast start seriously.

"They'd better," he said. "I feel like we're a good team right now and we're going to keep going."

After his two free throws put the Cavaliers up 97-93 with 1:35 to play, James stole Richard Jefferson's crosscourt pass and streaked in for a thunderous slam dunk. As the Gund Arena crowd erupted, the Nets called timeout and James walked to Cleveland's bench screaming, "This is my house."

The Nets pulled within 100-97 on Jason Collins' tip with 30.9 seconds to go, but James fed Harris in the right corner and the shooting guard, who spent seven seasons with the Nets before signing with Cleveland as a free agent last summer, drilled his 3 -- Cleveland's first after missing seven.

It was a familiar sight to Jason Kidd.

"I told the guys in the break that they hadn't hit a 3 all night," said Kidd, who played his second game after returning from knee surgery. "And then Sweet Lu stepped and hit it. I've seen him do that before."

As the Nets walked by him on the way to their bench, Harris shot a few of his former teammates a lighthearted glare as if to say, 'Don't you miss me?'

"I looked at them, but it was all in fun," Harris said.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Drew Gooden had 16 and 10 -- his fourth straight double-double -- for Cleveland, which hadn't won eight straight home games since 1996-97.

Jefferson led New Jersey with 27 points and Kidd had 10 points in 20 minutes. Collins added a season-high 17 points and Alonzo Mourning had 16 for the Nets, who have lost seven straight road games.

With Nets coach Lawrence Frank trying to manage Kidd's limited playing time wisely, the point guard re-entered the game with 4:37 left and the score tied 89-89.

Cavs guard Jeff McInnis then scored on a beautiful spin move in the lane before Eric Snow picked up a loose ball and fed James, who had missed his previous seven shots, for a layup to give the Cavaliers a 93-89 lead.

Kidd countered with a 3-pointer before McInnis' jumper made it 95-92. James then took charge, making all the big plays down the stretch. His dunk came when he anticipated Jefferson's pass, cut in the passing lane and was off to the rim.

"I saw what was happening," James said. "It was a back screen for Jason Kidd to hit a 3, and I was in the right position to get the steal and turn the game."

Game notes

Nets president Rod Thorn remains adamant he has no plans to trade Kidd. "We don't give guys like that away," Thorn said of Kidd, who has made it clear he isn't happy in New Jersey. "As far as I'm concerned, I want to keep him. He's a great player. If you have a great player who is healthy, you keep those guys. Great players don't come along everyday." ... James could have gone in for a dunk in the closing seconds, but decided not to. "The game was over," he said. "There's no reason to put it in their face, we were up by six. That's disrespectful." ... On Monday, James filmed another commercial for Bubblicious bubble gum. He signed a $5 million contract with the company in February. James' signature flavor, LeBron's Lemonade Lightning, will debut next month. ... Cavs F/C Anderson Varejao had a career-high six rebounds and six points in 10 minutes.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 97 103
FGM-FGA 35-71 (.493) 37-75 (.493)
3PM-3PA 4-8 (.500) 1-8 (.125)
FTM-FTA 23-31 (.742) 28-35 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-27 12-35
Assists 23 23
Turnovers 15 13
Steals 6 9
Blocks 3 5
Fast Break Points 5 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (4/0) 26 (2/0)
Largest Lead 2 9

Top Performers

New Jersey
Richard Jefferson Jefferson
Points: 27
Reb: 4
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
LeBron James James
Points: 27
Reb: 2
Ast: 8
Stl: 3
Blk: 0