7:30 PM ET, February 15, 2007
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After a couple of mediocre shooting games, LeBron James was at his All-Star best Thursday night.
The key was being aggressive.
James scored 38 points, six teammates reached double figures, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Los Angeles 114-108 to extend the Lakers' losing streak to five games, matching the longest of coach Phil Jackson's career.
LeBron James outscored Kobe Bryant 38-34 in the Cavaliers' 114-108 win at Staples Center. That might not seem like news, but it was the first time in seven meetings that the higher scorer in the individual battle between LeBron and Kobe played for the winning side.
James made 18 of 22 free throws, the most points that a visiting player scored from the foul line against the Lakers in a regulation-length game since 1966, when Oscar Robertson shot 19-for-23 from the line. Note: Gilbert Arenas made 21 of 27 free throws in an overtime game at Staples Center on Dec. 17. Elias Says.
James shot 10-of-16 from the floor and 18-of-22 from the foul line to lead the Cavaliers to their first victory over the Lakers at Staples Center following seven losses. In his previous two games, he made 14 of 41 field goal attempts and 13 of 21 free throws.
"Every player in this league has those types of stretches," James said. "I don't let a few games irritate my game or stop me from taking a lot of shots. I'm a career 48 percent shooter from the field.
"I just wanted to be aggressive. I came out with energy and my team fed off that."
The win was the fourth in five games for the Cavaliers (31-22), who enter the All-Star break with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
"LeBron attacked tonight," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "When he attacks like this, he's very hard to guard. He didn't waste any dribbles, he didn't waste any movement. Everything he did was with a purpose."
Jackson-coached teams have lost five straight games only three times. His teams are 907-377 in 16 seasons and have won nine championships -- six in Chicago and three in Los Angeles.
The Lakers (30-24) have lost 11 of their last 15 games.
"It's about playing with a certain sense of urgency, I think, and I don't think it sunk in," Jackson said of the Lakers' performance. "I think they're either too young or I didn't bring the message to them strongly enough."
The game was the second between the teams in a five-day span. Bryant outscored James 36-18 last Sunday, but the Cavaliers rallied for a 99-90 victory in the finale of the Lakers' eight-game road trip.
Bryant and James will be on opposite sides again Sunday, when Bryant starts for the Western Conference and James for the East in the All-Star game.
There were 61 personal fouls and four technicals called in a game that took two hours and 52 minutes to play. The teams combined to attempt 97 free throws.
James' baseline jumper over Bryant with 3:05 remaining gave Cleveland a 102-101 lead, and a 3-pointer by Sasha Pavlovic 31 seconds later put the Cavaliers ahead by four.
"I didn't shoot well all game," Pavlovic said. "I think I was more focused on that shot because I missed three in a row before that. They left me wide open."
A 3-pointer by Bryant with 34.3 seconds left moved the Lakers within one. James made a foul shot with 20 seconds remaining before missing the second, but Varejao got the rebound, the Lakers finally fouled James again with 11.7 seconds to play, and he made two free throws.
Bryant missed another 3-pointer with about eight seconds left, and Varejao made two free throws to complete the scoring.
"When you have a lot of free throws, it chops the game up quite a bit," Bryant said. "But I'm not complaining. I'd love to march to the free throw line 15 times a night."
Bryant shot 9-of-22 from the floor and was 14-of-15 from the foul line.
The Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 9-2 to start the fourth quarter for a 94-93 lead. Neither team led by more than four points after that until Varejao's late foul shots.
Neither team led by more than eight points. ... The Cavaliers played without Ilgauskas for the second straight game because of family health matters. Cleveland G Daniel Gibson also sat out due to a sprained left big toe. ... Lakers F Luke Walton missed his 11th game and C Kwame Brown his 23rd -- both because of sprained ankles. ... James shrugged off recent remarks made by Washington's Gilbert Arenas, who told CSTV.com the Cleveland star doesn't want to take end-of-game pressure shots. "It doesn't matter to me," James said. "As long as your teammates look to you as a leader, it doesn't matter." ... The Cavaliers have a 13-8 record against Western Conference teams and the Lakers are 13-14 against the East. ... Lakers swing man Maurice Evans sustained what team spokesman John Black called a moderate sprain of the left ankle.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-74 (.473)||36-86 (.419)|
|3PM-3PA||3-12 (.250)||7-21 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||41-55 (.745)||29-42 (.690)|
|Fast Break Points||14||12|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||28 (1/0)||33 (3/0)|