1:00 PM ET, January 29, 2006
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
CLEVELAND (AP) -- In 6 shining seconds, LeBron James made a block at one end, a dunk at the other and left a lasting memory of greatness.
"It was unbelievable," said Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa.
James scored 32 of his 44 points in the second half, and brought Cleveland back almost all by himself as the Cavaliers rallied for their fifth straight win, 113-106 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
James added 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Cavs, who trailed by 17 midway through the third quarter when their third-year superstar took control of the game.
And, in a stirring 6-second sequence of the fourth, James made one of the best plays of this NBA season -- or any other.
First, he hustled back on defense and blocked a floating layup by the speedy Barbosa, whose shot would have tied it. Then, James quickly retrieved the ball, sped down the floor, eluded Boris Diaw with a head fake and delivered a vicious, right-handed dunk that gave the Cavaliers a 97-93 lead.
Two plays. Six seconds. Over 100 feet. Thousands of dropped jaws.
"I was like, 'Holy Moley!" Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "That was one of the most athletic plays I've ever seen."
The Suns were stunned.
"He made a million highlights in a very short time," said reigning league MVP Steve Nash, who led Phoenix with 24 points.
James scored 16 points in the third and added another 16 in the fourth when Cleveland's defense finally slowed the Suns, holding the NBA's highest-scoring team to 19 points on just 6-of-20 shooting.
During the Cavs' winning streak, James is averaging 37.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists, and his 44-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist effort has only been matched by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Hakeem Olajuwon since 1991-92.
But it was his game-changing block of Barbosa that stood out.
"That play was very key," James said. "I just wanted to make a play to try and take the life out of them a little bit."
Even more than one-half hour following the game, Barbosa got wide-eyed as he tried to describe how James ran him down from behind.
"I never saw him," said Barbosa, who started for the injured Raja Bell. "I asked coach, 'How did he do that?' My teammates said I was dribbling like crazy and he still caught me. All of a sudden, he's at the other end."
Sasha Pavlovic had 15 points, Donyell Marshall 14 and reserve Anderson Varejao six with seven rebounds in a season-high 19 minutes for Cleveland. The wild-haired Varejao, a Cavs fan favorite because of his hustle, missed the first two months of the season following shoulder surgery.
"We know what we are going to get out of Andy every night, that is hustle, rebounding and defense," James said. "I know he feels good to be back playing with us. I know it's good to see him."
Eddie House scored 16 points for Pacific Division-leading Phoenix, which dropped to 2-2 on a six-game road trip.
James single-handedly brought the Cavs back in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 16 in the final 7:49 of the period as Cleveland trimmed a 72-55 deficit to 87-84 going into the fourth period.
Leading 60-55, the Suns ran off 12 straight points early in the third and seemed on the verge of pulling away for good before James took it upon himself to carry the Cavs. He made a three-point play and two 3-pointers while scoring 14 of Cleveland's final 20 points in the quarter.
Barbosa made his sixth start because Bell sat out with a sore calf. Bell, averaging 14.2 points in 38 minutes, strained his calf in practice on Saturday.
The lightning-quick Barbosa drove past Cleveland defenders and picked up five assists in the first six minutes of the first quarter as the Suns shot 70 percent (14-of-20) to open a 10-point lead.
The Cavs have chosen not to sign C Zendon Hamilton for the remainder of the season. His second 10-day contract expired Sunday. ... Nash is trying to become the first player to average at least 19 points and 11 assists per game since Magic Johnson did it in 1990-91. Nash's 19.1 point average is the highest in his 10-year career, and nearly four more points than he averaged as MVP last season. The only player to increase his scoring average from his MVP year was Larry Bird, who went up 4.5 points after winning in 1983-84. ... Cavs C Zydrunas Ilgauskas said the club's recent travel schedule has been odd. "You know you haven't been home a lot when your dog barks at you," said Ilgauskas, who has an 8-month-old Newfoundland named "Beckham" that weighs 115 pounds.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||40-79 (.506)||40-87 (.460)|
|3PM-3PA||10-24 (.417)||10-28 (.357)|
|FTM-FTA||16-20 (.800)||23-31 (.742)|
|Fast Break Points||24||8|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||24 (1/0)||18 (1/0)|