Published: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Jazz leave Cleveland on a sour note
CLEVELAND (AP) Once LeBron James decided to dominate, the Utah Jazz were defenseless and soon, defeated.
James scored 34 of his 40 points in the second half, and stripped former teammate Carlos Boozer in the final seconds Friday night to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 99-94 victory over Utah, ending a five-game winning streak by the Jazz.
James just missed his second straight triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks. He made 13 of 15 free throws, including four straight in the final 3.8 seconds as the Cavs sealed it.
"He took over," Utah's Deron Williams said. "He's one of those special players, who once he gets going, you can't stop him."
James, who had 16 points in the third and 18 in the fourth, either scored or assisted on 15 of Cleveland's 19 baskets in the second half. He tied Walt Wesley's 1971 team record for most points in a half.
Offensive fireworks aside, James' biggest play was a block with 12.8 seconds left on Boozer, who is still regarded as a villain by Cleveland fans for reneging on a promise to sign a contract with the Cavs and leaving as a free agent in 2004.
Cleveland, which led by seven with two minutes left, was only up 94-92 when Boozer got the ball on the low block. But as he began to spin in the lane and go up, James swooped in from behind and swatted the ball away with his left hand.
"He was wide open," James said of Boozer. "He didn't see me coming from the weak side and I was able to strip the ball."
James was surprised to learn the play was officially ruled a block and not a steal.
"That's OK," said James, who had 39 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists earlier this week in a loss to Orlando. "I'll take it."
After losing the ball, Boozer jumped in the air and screamed at officials about the no-call. Utah's All-Star forward then had words with James as they walked slowly to the other end of the floor.
"The ref said he [James] got the ball," Boozer said. "I was trying to say, 'He got me.' I guess it was a good play on his part. He came over and stripped the ball. That's what the refs saw, and that's what it was."
Cleveland's Devin Brown then split a pair of free throws and Utah pulled within 95-94 on a basket by Andrei Kirilenko.
James was fouled, and Cleveland's superstar, who has struggled with his free-throw shooting, made both attempts to put the Cavs up by three. Utah had a chance to tie it, but Mehmet Okur missed a 3-pointer with two seconds to go, James grabbed his 10th rebound and made two more foul shots to make it 99-94.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who held the NBA's highest-scoring team to 15 points less than its average.
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