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Five hit double figures as Cavs knock off struggling Bulls

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls tried almost everything to
stop LeBron James.

But James shook off some desperation grab-and-hold tactics by
Chicago's Andres Nocioni to score 12 of his 32 points in the fourth
quarter, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 102-91 victory over
the Bulls on Monday night.

"He believed he could guard me, I guess," James said after
surpassing 30 points for the 16th time this season and ninth in
December.

"He believed his aggressiveness could make me do things that I
don't do. I just tried to use that aggressiveness against him. It's
a great battle. I like it."

Drew Gooden scored 20 points and Larry Hughes added 19 as
Cleveland improved to an Eastern Conference-best 12-3 at home and
stretched its winning streak to six games. It was the Cavs' second
victory over Chicago in five days.

Chris Duhon, Tyson Chandler and Nocioni scored 15 apiece to lead
the Bulls, losers of four in a row.

"We were feisty out there, but they just hit some tough shots
to win," Chandler said.

James, coming off a 4-for-16 performance with only 14 points in
a win over Indiana on Friday night, shot 12-of-25 from the field
against the Bulls, adding eight rebounds and six assists.

"I thought Luol [Deng] did a good job on him and Noce did a
respectable job," Bulls coach Scott Skiles . "Sometimes, it's
hard to tell if you're really doing a good job on him or if he just
isn't kind of trying the way he wants to."

James certainly turned up the intensity in the final quarter
after exchanging glares and occasional words with Nocioni. Both
complained to officials that the other was guilty of fouling.

With 3:37 remaining, James snared a rebound and essentially
called a play for himself. He went 1-on-1 against Nocioni, who
ended up fouling James on a shot attempt. James made both free
throws to put Cleveland ahead 95-83.

"I tried to defend him," Nocioni said. "It's hard because
he's a great player. I think he's the best offensive player in the
league and it's difficult for me and everybody."

James is averaging 32.7 points in 12 games during December,
helping the Cavaliers (17-9) move a season-high eight games above
.500.

"We're very confident right now," James said. "We're winning
games, playing good defense and executing on offense."

While all five Cleveland starters scored in double figures for
the first time this season, coach Mike Brown was more impressed by
his team's defense. The Cavaliers blocked nine shots, had eight
steals and limited the Bulls to 42 percent shooting.

"That's two games in a row holding a team to 42 percent,"
Brown said. "I'm starting to see good things on the defensive side
of the ball."

The Bulls came in tied for the NBA lead in 3-point shooting with
Milwaukee and Detroit at 40 percent, but went 1-for-10 in the first
half and trailed at the break 55-45.

Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich each hit 3s to spark Chicago's 14-6 run
to open the second half.

Eric Snow then made a 20-footer for Cleveland, and a few seconds
later James drove to the hoop to put Cleveland back in command. His
fallaway jumper from the corner with 25 seconds left in the third
quarter put Cleveland ahead 77-66.

Snow scored 10 first-half points, one more than his previous
season high for a game. The point guard finished with 12 points.

"People keep saying Eric can't shoot," Brown said. "He went
6-for-9 tonight is around 50 percent (.495) for the season."

Game notes
Chicago finished 6-for-21 from beyond the 3-point arc. ...
Along with an eight-game winning streak in November, the Cavaliers
now have two streaks of six or more wins in a season for the first
time since 1992-93. ... Cleveland is 11-0 when limiting opponents
to 50 or fewer points in the second half. ... The Bulls lead the
all-time series 93-69, but have won only four of the last 17
meetings in Cleveland. ... Led by Chandler, Chicago's reserves held
a 29-9 scoring edge on the Cleveland bench. The Bulls' bench has
outscored opposing reserves in 26 of 27 games. ... Comedian Rob
Schneider sat in the front row at center court, wearing a Cavs
T-shirt.