Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/22

Game 1: Thursday, December 22nd
Game 2: Monday, December 26th
Game 3: Thursday, March 2nd
Game 4: Sunday, March 5th

Cavaliers 92

(33-26, 13-16 away)

Bulls 91

(25-32, 13-16 home)

Coverage: FSOH

6:00 PM ET, March 2, 2006

United Center, Chicago, IL

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 26 29 20 1792
CHI 17 20 23 3191

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 33 Pts, 11 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Blk

Chi: K. Hinrich 25 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Cavs hang on to beat Bulls, end five-game skid

CHICAGO (AP) -- LeBron James had the ball. Ronald Murray had the open look.

So James passed to his teammate, and Murray responded by making a 3-pointer from the right side with 3.9 seconds remaining to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 92-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers then held their breath as Andres Nocioni missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. With that, Cleveland snapped a five-game losing streak after blowing a 25-point lead.

Murray, acquired from Seattle at the trade deadline, scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.

The winning shot came after Kirk Hinrich went 1-of-2 from the free throw line to give the Bulls a 91-89 lead with 11 seconds left. With James driving toward the basket, Nocioni helped and left Murray -- a 20-percent 3-point shooter -- open.

"My man came off me to slide over on LeBron," Murray said. "He left me wide open. The look I had felt good, and the shot felt good."

And James had no qualms about passing out to Murray for that shot.

"It was the right thing to do," he said.

Coach Mike Brown agreed.

"Everyone thinks that LeBron has to take that last shot, but he's a guy who will pass it back to the open guy," Brown said. "He did the right thing. He drove extremely hard to the rim, and they collapsed on him."

After a timeout, Nocioni was supposed to hand the ball to Ben Gordon, but Eric Snow prevented that. Nocioni had to force a 3 at the buzzer.

"They covered me pretty well, and Nocioni had to take the shot," Gordon said.

It was a sour ending for the Bulls.

Down 10, Chicago scored 11 straight points midway through the fourth quarter, tying it at 81 on Hinrich's 3-pointer and taking a one-point lead on Gordon's free throw with 3:01 left.

James, who averaged 34.5 points in the first two games against the Bulls, scored 33 -- none in the final 7:40. He had 19 at halftime, matching his total the previous night in a loss to Sacramento.

With forward Drew Gooden out with flu-like symptoms, second-year pro Anderson Varejao got the first start of his career and responded with 13 points and six rebounds. But he missed two free throws with 18 seconds left and the Cavaliers down 88-87.

Snow added 14 points and eight assists.

Kirk Hinrich had 25 points and nine rebounds for Chicago, two nights after he had 30 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in a 111-100 victory over Minnesota.

Luol Deng finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Gordon scored 16.

"We have to lock in better on defense," Deng said.

Down 75-60, the Bulls started the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to make it 77-71.

With the score 81-71, Nocioni's basket started the 11-point run that gave the Bulls their first lead of the game. Murray stopped it with two foul shots, and the lead went back and forth.

Gordon's floater gave the Bulls an 88-87 lead with 39 seconds left and Deng hit two free throws to make it a three-point game with 16 remaining. After Murray scored on a drive, the Cavaliers fouled Hinrich with 11 seconds left.

"We can't come out and have all these lapses," Gordon said. "If they get two, at worst we're going into overtime. It was just a mental lapse on our part."

Bulls forward Malik Allen was back in the starting lineup after being taken to a hospital with a sprained neck during the Minnesota game and scored four points in 17 minutes. And Chris Duhon played 17 minutes after leaving that game with a bruised jaw.

Allen said doctors told him he would probably miss a game, but he felt fine after he warmed up during the morning shootaround.

His range of motion is "a ton better" than it was on Wednesday.

Allen injured his neck when he rotated to defend the Timberwolves' Rashad McCants on a drive to the basket early in the second quarter. As he fell backward, his head hit teammate Darius Songaila's leg. Allen was immobilized and carted off on a stretcher.

A few minutes later, Duhon took a shot to the face when he tried to take a charge against Minnesota's Justin Reed and was done for the night. Duhon was already sore after taking an elbow to the jaw from Gordon in practice on Monday.

Game notes

The Bulls have looked into a protective facemask for Duhon, but he didn't wear one on Thursday. ... The Bulls' 17 points in the first quarter were a season-low. ... Cleveland's next game is at home Sunday against Chicago. The Bulls visit New York on Friday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 92 91
FGM-FGA 33-78 (.423) 33-85 (.388)
3PM-3PA 3-11 (.273) 5-15 (.333)
FTM-FTA 23-31 (.742) 20-24 (.833)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-45 12-50
Assists 19 12
Turnovers 11 12
Steals 7 4
Blocks 5 3
Fast Break Points 6 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 24 (0/0)
Largest Lead 25 3

Top Performers

LeBron James James
Points: 33
Reb: 11
Ast: 8
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Kirk Hinrich Hinrich
Points: 25
Reb: 9
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 0