James shook off the effects of a hard fall in the foul lane to
score 35 points as the Cavaliers rebounded from an awful loss with
a 96-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
James landed with an echoing thud under the basket on a drive
late in the third quarter, but after having his left thigh treated
by Cleveland's trainers, the third-year star led a fourth-quarter
push that gave the Cavs their ninth win in 11 games.
"It was my whole left side," said James, whose tumble
momentarily silenced nearly 20,000 fans inside Quicken Loans Arena.
"It went kind of numb for a little bit. So I just laid on the
floor and got a little rest."
Drew Gooden added a season-high 17 rebounds and Donyell Marshall
scored 14 points, hitting a crucial 3-pointer that put the Cavs
ahead 89-80 with 3:05 remaining.
The Cavs were coming off a 90-81 loss on Thursday against
Houston when they went just 8-of-18 on free throws and 7-of-29 on
3-pointers. The Cavs weren't much better Saturday, going 17-of-29
from the line and 7-of-24 on 3s, but they did just enough to win
their fifth straight at home against Milwaukee while improving to
13-5 against Eastern Conference teams.
"We've been picking up the intensity in conference games,"
said James, who has scored at least 30 in six straight. "If we
would pick it up against other teams, we'd be a lot better off.
We've got to learn to do that."
Right now, the Cavaliers are learning to play without Larry
Hughes, their second-leading scorer, who will miss at least six
weeks following surgery to fix a broken finger. Cleveland is 2-1 so
far without him.
Michael Redd scored 30 points to pace the Bucks, who have lost
three straight for the first time this season. T.J. Ford came back
after missing four games with a foot sprain to add 10 points, seven
rebounds and five assists for Milwaukee.
"I'd hate to say we failed the test, but we did," Redd said.
"We were in it, but we just floundered it away."
James, who nearly banged his head on the backboard blocking a
shot in the third period, added seven rebounds and six assists.
He's averaging 39.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists in three
games against Milwaukee this season.
Midway through the third period, James sprinted across the lane
and perfectly timed his jump to reject a layup attempt by Mo
Williams, sending the ball five rows deep into the stands.
"I could have put it in bounds, but I didn't want to," James
Cavs reserve guard Mike Wilks played a season-high 26 minutes
and most of the fourth quarter as coach Mike Brown chose to keep
Damon Jones, who is starting in place of Hughes, on the bench for
the entire final period.
After Jones missed two 3s early in the third, some aggravated
Cavs fans booed the self-described "best shooter in the world,"
who is a combined 5-for-28 on 3-pointers in his last six games.
Jones made his next one, and promptly covered his ears with his
hands before running back on defense. A few seconds later, Jones
shouted, "Boo that!" and as he checked in following a timeout, he
said, "Put that in your newspaper, I don't want no more
He stood by his comments after the game.
"I'm still the best shooter in the world," he said. "I'm not
going to pass up shots. I've never done that in my life. If you are
going to boo, boo. Don't be fair weather. I'd rather not be
Toni Kukoc came off the bench in the first quarter and drained a
3, the first points for Milwaukee's reserves in two games against
the Cavs this week. On Thursday, Milwaukee's backups didn't score,
their first dry spell for a full game since Nov. 27, 1970.
Jones signed an agreement with Li-Ning, a Chinese athletic
shoe and apparel company. "I got billboards all over China," said
Jones, only half-joking with reporters before the game. "I got wax
sculptures. I'm an icon. I'm global. Who's that global around here,
except LeBron James?" The NBA agreed to allow its players to wear
and endorse Li-Ning gear last year. ... Cavs F Anderson Varejao,
sidelined all season following shoulder surgery, has returned to
practice and is expected to rejoin the club by the end of the month
-- earlier than expected. ...