Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 1)

Series starts 10/19

Game 1: Wednesday, October 19th

Grizzlies 84

(3-1, 1-1 away)

Cavaliers 88

(3-2, 2-1 home)

7:00 PM ET, October 19, 2005

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
MEM 23 18 21 2284
CLE 20 20 25 2388

Recovering LeBron scores 26 in preseason victory

CLEVELAND (AP) -- At times, LeBron James wheezed and gasped for air from his burning lungs. He doubled over, pulled on his shorts and wondered when or if he would ever find his second wind.

Luckily for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he got it just in time.

James scored 26 points -- nine over the final 2:31 -- in his first game back from a short hospital stay, leading the Cavaliers to an 88-84 exhibition win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

James, who missed Cleveland's previous three games with a virus that had Cavaliers fans worried sick, added five rebounds, three steals, one assist and four turnovers in 33 exhausting minutes.

And with the game slipping away from Cleveland in the fourth quarter, the All-Star forward made clutch plays as the Cavs held on.

"You kind of take LeBron for granted," Cavs first-year coach Mike Brown said. "He was just LeBron."

Drew Gooden added 18 points, Larry Hughes had 13 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas eight before fouling out for the Cavaliers.

Paul Gasol led Memphis with 24 points and Shane Battier had 13. Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright was ejected in the third quarter after picking up two quick technical fouls, and guard Bobby Jackson pulled his hamstring in the first half and did not return.

James scored 17 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting, but he struggled after halftime and didn't get his first points until his 20-foot jumper gave Cleveland a 79-78 lead with 2:31 remaining.

"I felt a little winded," said James, still recovering from pleurisy, a virus that can cause severe chest pain. "I ain't gonna lie. I wasn't 100 percent. If I looked sharp, wait until I get 100 percent."

With Cleveland down by three, James drilled a 3-pointer to tie it 82-all with 1:19 left and then drew a charge on Memphis' Dahntay Jones at the other end.

After Damon Jones hit two free throws to put the Cavaliers ahead 84-82, Hughes tipped away a pass intended for Gasol and James made four free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.

It appeared James was done for the night when the third period ended, but he returned with 7:24 left.

"I wanted to compete," he said. "I didn't want this one to slip away."

After he was originally diagnosed by team doctors with a strained chest muscle, James was hospitalized for two days last week with pleurisy, which causes inflammation around the lungs and chest cavity.

James didn't take long to get into the offensive flow, hitting a 19-foot jumper 1:06 into the game. He followed with a reverse layup and drained his first 3-pointer of the preseason before getting his first rest with 5:53 left in the period.

"I told Coach to take me out," James said. "It's (the virus) still in there."

With his 1-year-old son, LeBron Jr., watching from his grandmother's lap on the baseline, James returned with 9:14 left in the second quarter and scored 10 more points as the Cavs went into halftime down 41-40.

Game notes

Brown expects to make some roster cuts in the next few days. Cleveland is currently carrying 19 players. ... Before the game, Cleveland's public announcer inadvertently forgot to introduce Cavs guard Eric Snow. James quipped, "Guess we're playing five on four." ... The Grizzlies had 22 turnovers.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press