<
>

James scores 46, but Cavs fall to white-hot Suns

PHOENIX (AP) -- LeBron James at his best wasn't enough to beat
the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

The band of sharpshooters led by Steve Nash overcame James'
46-point night to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-106, their ninth
victory in 11 games and fifth home win in a row.

James told USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo before the game
that he would play for the U.S. team at this year's world
championships and the 2008 Olympics, then put on an all-world show
that included eight assists and seven rebounds.

But it wasn't enough against the deep, high-scoring Suns, and
the Cavaliers lost their third in a row, matching their longest
skid of the season.

"They've got a lot more firepower than us," James said. "We
played as well as we could. We gave great effort. That's all we can
ask for."

Eddie House scored 12 of his 17 points on 4-for-6 long-range
shooting in the fourth quarter for Phoenix.

"It looked like most if not every one of Eddie's shots were
contested," Cavs coach Mike Brown said, "and he knocked some
tough shots down."

Shawn Marion had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Nash added 20
points and 15 assists for the Suns, who shot 55 percent. Raja Bell
scored 23 points, including 5-of-6 3-pointers, and Boris Diaw had
18.

The Suns are 24-12 and could get Amare Stoudemire back shortly
after the All-Star break.

"It's going to get even worse for the Western Conference when
Amare gets back," James said, "and that's scary. They're a good
team. They've got great guys and a great system."

James, who has a season-high 52 points and career-best 56, made
18 of 28 shots, going 5-of-8 from 3-point range.

"He was great," Nash said. "He lived up to his billing and
then some, that's for sure."

But in the end, Nash called it a routine Phoenix performance.

"I thought tonight wasn't anything out of the ordinary," he
said. "We didn't blow them out. We're capable of beating good
teams at home."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the
Cavaliers.

"LeBron and Zydrunas were unbelievable, and they still didn't
win, which is a good sign for us," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni
said.

Drew Gooden was the only other Cleveland player in double
figures with 12, but left the game for good with a strained leg
muscle with 8:06 left in the third quarter.

Phoenix outscored the Cavs 19-8 to start the second half to take
a 78-65 lead on Diaw's inside basket with 5:54 to go in the third
quarter, then James went to work again.

He sank three 3-pointers in a 16-6 surge, the last one cutting
the lead to three at 84-81 with 11:34 to play.

Cleveland twice cut the lead to two midway through the fourth
quarter and was down 106-103 after James' emphatic slam with 2:53
to play.

But Nash sank two free throws, Bell made a 3-pointer and Marion
dunked on a bounce-pass from Nash, and the Suns were in control for
good, 113-103, with 2:53 remaining.

"It was fun," House said. "I think our brand of basketball is
always fun. I don't think there's been a boring game we've played
yet."

The Suns shot 71 percent in the first quarter (15-for-21) and
led only 33-31. They hit 61 percent (26-for-43) in the first half
and were up just 59-57.

James scored 14 of 16 points for the Cavaliers late in the first
half, and had a brilliant crosscourt bounce pass assist to Eric
Snow for the other two. He was 6-for-7 in his 14-point second
quarter for 23 first-half points.

Bell made his first five shots and scored 15 in the first half
to Marion's 14 and Diaw 12.

Game Notes
Nash had his 10th double-double in 11 games. ... Leandro Barbosa, out for 16 games with a knee injury, returned and scored seven in 19 minutes for the Suns. ... The Cavs were playing their second on a six-game road trip. ... James' 46 points were the most scored against Phoenix this season.