Jamesí Triple-Double Leads Cavaliers
Cleveland 123, Philadelphia 120
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 19 (Ticker) -- In a game played entirely in fifth gear, LeBron James put it into overdrive.
James collected his fifth career triple-double and had a pair of clutch driving layups in the final 65 seconds as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for their seventh straight win, a 123-120 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
"LeBron, LeBron, LeBron. That's a triple-double, and that's says enough," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "LeBron is amazing. We didn't do anything tricky down the stretch. We put the ball in his hands and he won the game for us. This guy is making me look like I can coach."
"I was in attack mode," James said. "I had to help this team know, somehow, someway, that we could win this ballgame. Seeing me attack, they (teammates) knew that it wasn't over. I got some good looks and my teammates got some good looks. This in one of the biggest wins in my three years here."
After a layup by Andre Iguodala gave Philadelphia a 116-114 lead with 1:48 remaining, James - who scored 13 points in the fourth quarter - blew past Iguodala for a layup while drawing a foul. His free throw gave the Cavaliers the lead for good with 1:02 to play.
"Once I'm attacking, I feel that I'm unguardable," James said. "I felt like I was in my zone. I got our guys in position and we got ourselves a good victory."
Allen Iverson, who had 37 points and 12 assists, missed a jumper and James attacked again, using a stutter step to lose Iguodala and tossing in a scoop shot for a 119-116 advantage with 20 seconds to go.
The 76ers twice cut the deficit to one point, but Damon Jones answered each time with two free throws. With 5.5 seconds to play, Iverson took the inbounds pass, dribbled quickly into the frontcourt and got a good look at a 3-pointer that hit the front of the rim.
Former Sixer Larry Hughes scored a season-high 37 points and Drew Gooden added 16 and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers (8-2), who are off to the second-best 10-game start in franchise history. The 1976-77 squad won nine of its first 10 games.
The Cavaliers came in having allowed just 88.5 points during their winning streak, a threshold surpassed by the Sixers late in the third quarter. However, they erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit and won for just the fourth time in the last 24 games between the clubs.
"It's big because you want to win games early on in the season," Hughes said. "We don't feel like we're where we should be, but we're learning our defensive schemes and the players around us. I think that we'll be fine down the road."
Chris Webber had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Iguodala added 17 and eight for the Sixers, who have lost two in a row following a six-game winning streak. They were outrebounded 49-33 and their interior defense was non-existent as James repeatedly exploited the middle with drives and passes.
"They got to the middle of our defense for layups or kicking out for shots," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Once again, it got down to not defending the pick-and-roll. We have to come up with a way to defend the pick-and-roll. Whichever way we're going to do it, we have to do it."
"We have to take it on ourselves to guard our man," Webber said. "We also can't use our youth as an excuse. These games like tonight, they hurt. We're really in a position where we really could have won."
Two baskets by Webber gave Philadelphia a 109-104 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left before James drove for a layup. Iverson sank a jumper, but Gooden made two free throws and a layup and James found Donyell Marshall for a layup and a 112-111 lead - Cleveland's first of the game - with 3:36 remaining.
"For us it was a character win," Brown said. "I thought that our guys found a way to win the basketball game. They did it on their own as a group. Everybody stepped up at certain times in the game."
Iguodala responded with a three-point play after a steal by Iverson and Hughes tied it for the last time with two foul shots at the 2:48 mark.
It was a frenetic first half, what you would expect from the Nos. 2 and 3 offenses in the NBA. Kyle Korver, who scored 13 points, made two 3-pointers and a jumper on consecutive trips to give the Sixers a 10-point cushion before they settled for a 66-57 halftime advantage.
"For me personally, that's the way basketball should be played," Webber said. "Calling every play, to me, is not basketball. I love the going up and down. It lets you touch the ball and gets the team gets a rhythm."
"That's not the way we want to win all the time," Brown said. "We hope to win by getting stops first because I know that we can score. I like to get stops so I can see if I can grind it. I said to my players before that if they want to go up-tempo game, I truly believe that we can do that."
Iverson, who scored 20 points in the first half, started a 12-4 surge with a 3-pointer and ended it with a three-point play that gave Philadelphia its largest lead at 90-74.
Cleveland closed the quarter with an 11-4 push and kept coming in the final period. James had a pair of dunks and a layup before Hughes' fifth 3-pointer made it 103-102 with 7:03 to go.