Published: Thursday, April 26, 2007
Gooden ignites Cavs
He scored 24 points as Cleveland took a 2-0 lead over the Wizards.
CLEVELAND (AP) Usually a member of Cleveland's supporting cast, Drew Gooden stepped into a co-starring role in Game 2.
With LeBron James playing cautiously on a sprained left ankle, Gooden scored 19 of his 24 points before halftime Wednesday night, powering the Cavaliers to a 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
Gooden normally doesn't have many offensive plays called for him by Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who may have to rethink that philosophy after the forward came through on a night when James was clearly not himself.
Gooden's performance came exactly one year after he had 24 points and 16 rebounds in Game 2 of the Cavs' first-round series against the Wizards. Cleveland lost that game before winning the series in six.
But the 6-foot-10 Gooden, who is growing out an 1980s-style ducktail hairdo, helped make sure recent history wouldn't be repeated.
Kept game close
The Wizards, though, made it interesting in the final minute. They kept pecking away at Cleveland's lead and closed within 105-102 on a 3-pointer by Jarvis Hayes with 18 seconds left.
Larry Hughes then made four free throws as Cleveland closed it out and sent the best-of-seven series to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday.
James, who twisted his ankle in Game 1, still managed to get 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists roughly his average this season. And when the Wizards trimmed a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to six, James took control.
He scored 13 points in the final period, including nine in the final 5:14. But other than a two-handed dunk in the first half and couple of powerful excursions toward the hoop, James seemed to take it easy on an ankle he said is still sore.
Once again, Antawn Jamison had to do it alone for the Wizards, who are without injured All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Jamison had 31 points but Antonio Daniels (11) was the only other Washington starter in double figures.
Hughes had 19 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 for the Cavs, who have only been up 2-0 in a series one other time in their 37-year history.
Before the game, James said he still had pain in his ankle but he didn't expect to have any trouble playing on it.
"It's not 100 percent," he said. "It's (pain) is going to be there for a while."
James gave Cleveland fans a few moments of concern when he didn't immediately come out with his teammates for pregame warmups. But moments later, he burst onto the floor and began testing his injury with some strong moves.
Once the game began, he wasn't as assertive as normal, and the Wizards took advantage, opening a 43-36 lead on a basket by Jamison.
Gooden excells early
Gooden then brought the Cavs back by himself.
He scored 15 points and Cleveland's final 11 in the last 5:45 of the second quarter, hitting six straight contested jumpers and scoring two three-point plays as the Cavs took a 51-48 halftime lead.
After dropping a 19-footer and getting fouled with 28.5 seconds left, Gooden screamed and bumped chests with James as the sellout crowd serenaded Cleveland's No. 90 with a chorus of "Druuuuu."
James seemed reluctant to push off on his ankle early. He spent most of the first quarter out on the perimeter, looking to pass to his teammates. He didn't make his first drive until the 1:43 mark when he was fouled for a three-point play.
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan wanted more from Etan Thomas, who scored just four points in Game 1, and Washington's center responded with seven points in the first quarter. But he scored only two more and Washington's frontline got pounded on the boards 56-38.
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