CLEVELAND, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- With the Cleveland Cavaliers on the verge of blowing a big lead for the third straight game, LeBron James got involved.

James had 26 points and 12 assists and helped turn back a rally as the Cavaliers held on for a 107-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

NBA TV highlights from
"When we need it, (James) can provide it," Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said. "That's the mark of a quality player."

The Cavaliers had lost two in a row, squandering a 10-point halftime lead Thursday at Detroit and a 15-point fourth-quarter bulge in Saturday's home overtime loss to Boston. In that contest, James scored just two points in the fourth quarter and admitted his team played "tight" as the offense sputtered.

This game seemed to follow a similar script as Cleveland led by 16 points early in the final period before Minnesota began a comeback. But James, who turns 20 on December 30, wasn't going to let that storyline repeat itself.

"I passed up a lot of shots that I know I should be taking in the game against Boston," James said. "But, tonight I was aggressive, I was attacking, and our offense had a good flow."

Seven straight points by Troy Hudson cut the deficit to 83-74 before James sank a jumper from the right corner over Wally Szczerbiak. A 3-pointer by Hudson and a jumper by Szczerbiak made it 85-79, but James hit a driving 10-footer to again stall the rally.

When Eddie Griffin drilled a 3-pointer to make it 87-82, James drove strong around superstar Kevin Garnett and drew a foul. His free throw and two more by Jeff McInnis made it 90-82 with 5:22 to play.

Down the stretch, James added a free throw and zipped a pass through a zone to Drew Gooden for a dunk and a 99-88 lead with 1:46 left.

"We talked about it after the (Boston) game and we talked about it yesterday in practice and the guys responded," Silas said. "We cannot walk the ball up the court and become tight. And that's what we did in the Boston game."

Asked if James raises his level of play against the league's marquee teams and elite players such as Garnett, Silas replied, "I think so. Absolutely. He loves to play against quality opponents."

"We played a great game tonight from the first quarter through the fourth quarter," James added.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 25 points and nine rebounds and McInnis scored 21 points for Cleveland, which had lost its last four meetings with Minnesota but improved to 10-2 at home, the best mark in the Eastern Conference, and 6-3 against Western Conference opponents.

"It's important for us to establish (Ilgauskas) early," McInnis said. "And the rest of us just fit in. I took it upon myself to be aggressive tonight."

Led by James' 10-of-18 shooting, the Cavs shot 53 percent (39-of-74) from the field and had 28 assists.

Garnett had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Timberwolves, who played without Latrell Sprewell. The swingman suffered a foot injury in Friday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We looked too much for our own shots instead of moving the ball," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "You look at McInnis, James and Ilgauskas, and (the Cavaliers) have three positions where they can really score at. Other guys know how to play off them."

"We really didn't shoot the ball like we know we can, and, at the same time, our defense wasn't really established," Garnett said.