James Dominates, Cavs Win Eighth Straight
Cleveland 115, Boston 93
CLEVELAND, Nov. 22 (Ticker) -- The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers were this good, they were headed for a playoff berth and LeBron James was headed to high school.
James scored 36 points and took over the game late in the third quarter as the Cavaliers rolled to their eighth straight victory, a 115-93 triumph over the Boston Celtics.
Larry Hughes scored 25 points for the Cavaliers, who trailed for just 29 seconds and led by as many as 16 points as they repeatedly turned back rallies by the Celtics. The Cavaliers improved to 6-0 at Quicken Loans Arena with an average winning margin of more than 20 points.
"It would be ideal to go 41-0 at home," James said. "It sounds unrealistic, but the way we are playing now, it looks like it can happen."
But the story was James, who was named the Eastern Conference's Player of the Week on Monday and began working on this week's honor. He made 13-of-20 shots and 9-of-11 free throws as he simply overwhelmed the Celtics with his speed and power.
"(James) scores 36 in the flow," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "If he was selfish, he could have had 50 tonight, but they may have lost if he had done that. They way he understands the game at his age is phenomenal. He should coach."
The Celtics used an 11-1 run to close to 74-72 late in the third period before James scored all of the Cavaliers' points in a 10-1 surge. He made a free throw, sank three straight hoops and drained a 3-pointer in the waning seconds for an 84-73 advantage.
"They made a run and I thought it was time for me to start attacking," said James.
Boston got no closer than eight points thereafter. In the fourth quarter, James made a running bank shot while drawing contact and shouting, "And one!" although no foul was called. He later fought through a foul by Paul Pierce to make a layup.
His free throw made it 102-89 with 4:57 left, and on the next possession he threw a leaping, cross-court skip pass to Donyell Marshall, who drilled a 3-pointer.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 19 points and Drew Gooden had his third straight double-double with 13 and 15 boards for the Cavaliers, who have won four of the last five meetings after dropping 13 in a row to the Celtics.
Former Cav Ricky Davis scored 27 points and Pierce added 24 and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Celtics (4-6), who fell to 0-5 on the road. One of four teams yet to win back-to-back games, Boston had 20 turnovers compared to eight for Cleveland.
"That was the biggest difference in the game," Pierce said. "There are a couple of hurdles we have to get over and turnovers are one them."
James and Hughes each scored 11 points in the first quarter as Cleveland grabbed a 27-18 lead.
"It's LeBron, it's Larry. It's Larry, it's LeBron," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "Everybody else is just feeding off those guys."
Midway through the second quarter, James powered through a horse-collar foul by Pierce and switched hands to make a layup. His free throw pushed the margin to 48-32.
"What do you want me to say?" Pierce said. "He's a strong guy, 6-foot-8, 240-250 pounds and you have to foul him a little harder. Whenever you match up against another All-Star, you just try to one-up each other, I guess. Tonight, he had a great game; he one-upped me."
"It's a great matchup," James said. "We are two of the best small forwards in the league right now and every time I go up against Paul it is a competition."
Boston responded with an 11-2 burst and inched within 58-51 at halftime.