Cleveland wins series 4-2 (Game 3 of 6)

Cleveland wins series 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, April 22nd
Game 2: Tuesday, April 25th
Game 3: Friday, April 28th
Game 4: Sunday, April 30th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 3rd
Game 6: Friday, May 5th

Cavaliers 97

(50-32, 19-22 away)

Wizards 96

(42-40, 27-14 home)

    Coverage: CSNB

    8:00 PM ET, April 28, 2006

    Verizon Center, Washington, DC

    1 2 3 4 T
    CLE 19 31 21 2697
    WSH 26 32 13 2596

    Top Performers

    Cle: L. James 41 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    WSH: G. Arenas 34 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    James pours in 41 as Cavs come back, beat Wiz

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- LeBron James drove around Antonio Daniels, collided with Michael Ruffin and banked in a 4-footer on the way down with 5.7 seconds left.

    Chalk up another milestone for the emerging legend: He made his first game-winning shot in the playoffs.

    James scored a franchise playoff-record 41 points Friday night, including two tough shots in the paint in the final minute. In a thrilling one-on-one fourth-quarter duel between two young stars, James had the final say over Gilbert Arenas in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 97-96 victory over the Washington Wizards.

    "We are two All-Stars," James said. "We don't want our teams to lose the game. It was unfortunate that one team had to lose, but I am happy I was on the winning side. It was a great performance by myself and Gilbert."

    James made 16 of 28 shots and had five rebounds and three assists. Arenas scored 17 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter -- making all but one of the Wizards' field goals in the period -- but he missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game.

    "It went in and came out. You're going to miss more than you make in your career," Arenas said. "I missed that one, but I'm going to have more opportunities to make them. ... I thought it was going in. It was there, just a little off. It just wasn't our day. We fought all 48 minutes of this basketball game and we deserved this win."

    The Cavaliers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday in Washington.

    Larry Hughes, who had been struggling all series, scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Cavaliers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 4:57 to play.

    But the Cavaliers were all about James, who played all but 23 seconds. His teammates were a combined 19-for-57 from the field. The Wizards mixed up their defenses, sometimes showing double-teams and threats of double-teams, especially in the second half, but James couldn't be stopped at the end when everyone in the building knew he would take the shots.

    He gave the Cavaliers the lead with 31 seconds remaining by driving to the paint against Jared Jeffries. Jeffries appeared to tie James up, but James recovered and put in the layup.

    Arenas, serenaded by chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" in the fourth quarter, responded by driving the paint to draw a blocking foul on James while making the layup. Arenas hit the free throw for a three-point play, giving the Wizards a 96-95 lead with 23 seconds to go -- but giving James time to win it.

    "I said I wouldn't have two bad games in a row," said James, who had 10 turnovers and shot 7-for-25 in the Game 2 loss. "I watched Game 2 over and over, and I saw the adjustment they made on me from Game 1 to Game 2. Me being the player I am, I had to counterattack, and I was able to do that."

    James wouldn't have been in position to win the game were it not for two key defensive plays. Donyell Marshall blocked Ruffin's layup, then was fouled at the other end and made both free throws to tie it at 93 with 51 seconds remaining. On the Wizards' next possession, Flip Murray jumped to intercept Daniels' pass for a steal.

    Caron Butler had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Antawn Jamison scored 14 points -- but only two in the second half -- for the Wizards, who shot 39 percent in the second half after making 55 percent in the first.

    "It hurts," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "You have to let it seep out of you as the night goes along, and tomorrow morning you go back to work for the game on Sunday."

    The game began with a blood-pumping, up-and-down pace missing from the first two games, although James was curiously a non-factor for much of the first quarter. The Cavaliers instead tried to feed the ball inside to Ilgauskas, who made a long hook for the game's first basket and didn't have another field goal until the second quarter.

    A 15-4 run gave the Wizards a 26-15 lead, and coach Mike Brown decided he'd seen enough. He called timeout, and the message was clear: James needed the ball. He was the focus of the next three possessions, but only one was successful. He drove by Butler for a dunk, was called for an illegal dribble and missed a jump shot.

    James, who had a triple-double in Game 1, didn't get his first assist until 2:21 to go in the half, and the Wizards led by 14 before James led a late rally before the break. An 8-2 run cut Washington's lead to 58-50 at the half.

    The Wizards went cold in the third quarter, making six of 18 shots. James made two baskets and assisted on the other in a 6-0 run that tied the score at 67, and the teams went to the fourth tied at 71.

    The rest of the game, it was Arenas vs. James. The Wizards made James work hard for his game-winner, but not hard enough.

    "Jared was there. Mike Ruffin was there. And he made a tough shot," Butler said. "That's the type of shot you want him to take. Tonight he was converting a lot of those."

    Game notes

    How big is the hype surrounding James? The Wizards issued a credential to a reporter from, giving him a seat between The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and USA Today. ... Pregame mystery in the Wizards locker room: Someone wrote "The Hater" in block letters on the nameplate above rookie Andray Blatche's locker. "I don't know who did it -- probably Gil," Blatche said. But Arenas said there was no way he could be the culprit. "I have bad penmanship," he said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 97 96
    FGM-FGA 35-85 (.412) 34-71 (.479)
    3PM-3PA 5-14 (.357) 2-13 (.154)
    FTM-FTA 22-27 (.815) 26-33 (.788)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-38 7-41
    Assists 14 11
    Turnovers 12 18
    Steals 10 5
    Blocks 2 12
    Fast Break Points 15 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/1) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 14

    Top Performers

    LeBron James James
    Points: 41
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Gilbert Arenas Arenas
    Points: 34
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1