CLEVELAND (AP) -- They started the season expecting to be among
the NBA's elite teams. And so far, the Cleveland Cavaliers are.
James added nine rebounds and six assists for the Cavs, who
improved to an Eastern Conference-best 7-2 and won their first game
without guard Larry Hughes. He sprained his right ankle Wednesday
against Portland and could miss several games.
It's a significant loss, but the Cavaliers are used to playing
without Hughes. He missed 46 games with a broken finger last
season, but Cleveland managed to go 27-19 in his absence.
"It shows the caliber of team we are," James said. "We feel
we're one of the best teams in the league. We're proving that right
Minnesota's Ricky Davis was just 2-of-10 and had four points --
10 below his average -- and the Timberwolves shot 29 percent
(10-of-35) from the floor after halftime.
"Our offense in the second half disappeared," coach Dwayne
Casey said. "Thirty-one points? You can't expect to beat teams on
the road like that."
Ilgauskas, who has averaged 14.9 points in his career, came in
getting just 7.6 per game as the 7-foot-3 center has struggled in
Cleveland's new motion offense. But the big man scored his 14 in
three quarters before sitting the entire fourth.
He wasn't needed as James -- Cleveland's biggest man -- took over.
He scored 13 points and hit one of three 3-pointers in the fourth
when the Cavaliers opened an 18-point lead and coasted.
Cleveland was only up by four early in the fourth when Damon
Jones, who finished with 11 points, hit a jumper and James fed
Sasha Pavlovic for a 3-pointer to trigger a 13-2 spurt that put the
After James drained a 3-pointer to make it 81-68, Cleveland's
superstar stayed back and watched as his teammates took off up
court on a fast break. Pavlovic threaded a crosscourt pass
underneath to Anderson Varejao, who left a bounce bass for Donyell
Marshall, who dunked to make it 83-68 with 3:23 to go.
James finished one point under his season high and got to enjoy
the final 1:10 from the bench.
"I didn't force anything," he said.
Garnett did, and never found his touch.
"I rushed a lot of shots," said Garnett, who had 11 rebounds
and five steals. "In the fourth they made their run and we never
answered it. It was one of those nights, but that's the beauty of
this league, there's tomorrow."
Hughes, who has been injury prone during his pro career, arrived
at the arena on crutches and in a walking boot. He doesn't know
when he'll be back and said he won't place any weight on his leg
until Monday -- at the earliest.
The Cavaliers play at Washington on Saturday and have four games
in five days next week.
The Cavs are 7-2 for the fourth time. Only the 1976-77
squad that started 8-1 got off to a better start. ... It's great to
be King. James had no worries about landing a precious PlayStation
3. He already had one. The gaming system went on sale Friday,
causing long lines and fights outside stores nationwide. "I didn't
wait outside either," James said. "I have a lot of connections."
... Garnett moved past Reggie Theus into 59th place on the career
steals list with 1,208. ... Minnesota C Mark Blount needed stitches
to close a cut in his head opened by an elbow from James, who was
called for his first career flagrant foul. ... James' No. 23 jersey
was outnumbered by various Ohio State jerseys dotting the arena. He
predicted a 24-21 Buckeyes win and two touchdowns by friend Ted