"I put two hands up, blew on his face," LeBron James said.
"But he was in a groove. When a guy's shooting like that, there's
not much you can do."
Except stand back and admire.
Finley scored 26 points, making all eight of his 3-pointers, and
the Mavericks beat Cleveland 117-86 Saturday night for their
largest margin of victory this season.
"We had a hand in Finley's face, and he still made them,"
Cleveland coach Brendan Malone said.
Finley is finding out he can still be a shooter and a scorer in
the defensive-oriented system of new Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.
A week earlier in Johnson's debut, Finley was 1-for-10 shooting
and then had a 2-for-11 game Wednesday night against Golden State.
But when going 4-for-10 in his last game, he made 3-of-4 3-pointers
-- missing the last one in a loss at Sacramento.
"I'm fine. A lot of people make a big deal out of my offensive
game, and it deserves that," Finley said. "As I go, sometimes the
team goes. The team needs me to be offensively aggressive. I take
it upon myself to do that, and tonight was one of those times."
Finley was just 1-of-6 inside the arc, but already had his fifth
3-pointer midway through the second quarter when he scored to put
the Mavs up 51-38. That was part of a 22-9 spurt that broke the
In the first quarter before the game got out of hand, James had
the ball at the top of the key and stared at Finley defending him.
The preps-to-pro prodigy in his second season looked at Finley
again, then swished a shot to get the Cavs to 20-17.
Finley responded with a 3-pointer on the next shot. That drew a
glance of admiration from James they went back down the court.
Finley didn't play the last 8 minutes with the game out of reach
and finished two short of the team record for 3-pointers. George
McCloud had 10 in December 1995, and has four of the other five
games in which a Dallas player had eight 3-pointers -- Nowitzki had
"He had it going," guard Jason Terry said. "He caught the
ball in rhythm and didn't hesitate."
As a team, the Mavericks hit a season-high 14-of-18 3-pointers.
Johnson certainly inherited a team with better overall talent
than Malone did. The likely playoff teams met for the first time
this season, within a week after both changed coaches.
Keith Van Horn added 23 points and Terry had 14 as six Mavericks
reached double figures. While Dirk Nowitzki had an offnight
shooting (3-for-12 for 11 points), he had 14 rebounds and blocked
The Mavs are 4-1 since Johnson was promoted from assistant to
replace Don Nelson after the second-winningest coach in NBA history
resigned. Dallas was 9-4 in other games that Johnson coached before
that this season when Nelson was absent.
Malone is 1-2 since Paul Silas was fired Monday. The win was in
Malone's debut at home before the two road losses to extend
Cleveland's road losing streak to 11 since Jan. 22 at Golden State.
Just three minutes into the game, James rolled his left ankle,
falling to the floor and grimacing in pain after stepping on Shawn
Bradley after a missed shot. He went to the bench, but was back in
the game the next timeout.
"It's a little sore, but I have two days (before playing Monday
at New Orleans)," James said. "Our chances of winning are very
slim with me off the court, so I tried to play through it."
Van Horn put Dallas ahead to stay when he hit a floater in the
opening minute of the second quarter to start the game-turning run.
Terry made a 3-pointer for a 66-50 halftime lead, and the Cavaliers
never got closer than 15 after that.
James' short runner tied the game at 29 at the end of the first
quarter. But the Mavericks are used to not having the lead at that
The Mavericks have outscored their opponents in the first
quarter just once the last 16 games. And this was just the second
time in that stretch they were tied after the first 12 minutes.
The Mavs record for consecutive 3-pointers is 10 by Brad
Davis in 1988. ... Dallas plays eight of its last 13 games on the
road, including the next four. ... Cleveland has lost 11 of 15
overall but is still sixth in the Eastern Conference. ... Devin
Harris had 12 points for Dallas on 5-of-7 shooting, and Josh Howard
had 11 points.