BOSTON, Nov. 26 (Ticker) -- LeBron James
followed up the best offensive
game of his career by going on the defensive.
James blocked Paul Pierce
's fadeaway jumper with under a second
remaining as the Cleveland Cavaliers won in Boston for the first
time in more than seven years, holding on for a 98-96 victory over
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In Wednesday's 92-76 victory over defending champion Detroit,
James put on an offensive display, scoring a career-best and NBA
season-high 43 points. He was not as explosive in this one but
still was a major factor.
After James set up Zydrunas Ilgauskas
for a jumper with 19
seconds left to snap a 96-96 tie, the 19-year phenom came up
huge on the other end of the floor.
Following a timeout, the Celtics went to the 6-6 Pierce, who
struggled down the stretch. He was defended hard by Drew Gooden
and the 6-8 James, who was able to get a hand on the shot.
"I knew they were going to isolate him on Drew Gooden," James
said. "Drew did a good job and brought him to me and I stepped
up and got the block. That is just great team defense."
"I've been in the league seven years now and I have more ups and
downs, and this is one of those games that I felt I let the team
down," Pierce said. "But there will be more times I will lift
them up. I'm not even worried about it."
James scored 20 points with eight assists and six rebounds. He
also stole a pass from Pierce with just over two minutes
Gooden scored 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting and Ilgauskas added
26 for Cleveland, which had lost 12 straight in Boston dating
to Nov. 7, 1997 -- when James was 12 years old.
Pierce scored 25 points and Gary Payton
added 14 and 10 assists
for the Celtics, who have lost three straight and five of their
last six games.
Pierce also lost the ball on his dribble with 1:31 left, then
fouled Jeff McInnis
, who sank both free throws to tie the game
at 94-94. McInnis scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth
James and Payton traded baskets before Ilgauskas made his
16-footer to give the Cavaliers the lead for good.
"It was designed for LeBron to catch the ball on the wing just
like he did," Ilgauskas said. "But when he drove to the middle,
my man went to help on him and he just dished it to me for the
jump shot, and I had no other choice but to take it. I was wide
Ilgauskas and Gooden had their way down low, combining for 36
points in the first half to help the Cavaliers open a 53-48
lead. Cleveland shot 59 percent (20-of-34)
in the half.
A layup by James gave the Cavaliers a 75-67 lead with 3:41 left
in the third quarter. But Pierce made a 3-pointer 11 seconds
later to trigger a 14-0 surge that closed the quarter and gave
the Celtics the lead.
"We were scoring, impossible to guard, and then I thought we
stopped playing and that's tough," Celtics coach Doc Rivers
said. "Ilgauskas made a tough shot. I can live with that, but
down the stretch, I thought we just wilted."
Cleveland shot 54 percent (37-of-68), making up for a lack of
production from its bench, which combined for just four points.
The Celtics shot 46 percent (33-of-72).