Cavs Win Sixth Straight, James Pours in 32
Cleveland 102, Chicago 91
CLEVELAND, Dec. 26 (Ticker) -- LeBron James performed like a superstar down the stretch to keep the Cleveland Cavaliers streaking.
James scored 12 of his 32 points in the final eight minutes as the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to six games with a 102-91 victory over the slumping Chicago Bulls.
"I thought Luol (Deng) did a good job on (James) and (Andres Nocioni) did a respectable job on him," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're really doing a good job on him or if he just isn't kind of trying all the way until he wants to."
Coming off a season-low 14-point performance against Indiana, James helped Cleveland keep Chicago at bay in the fourth by consistently hitting mid-range jumpers. Many of them came with with either Deng or Nocioni in his face.
"(Nocioni) believed that he could guard me, I guess," James said. "I just tried to be more aggressive against him. I tried to use the aggressiveness he used against me on the other end. It's a great battle. I like it."
"I think he's the best offensive player in the league and it's difficult for me and for everybody," Nocioni said.
Drew Gooden collected 20 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which is two games shy of its best surge this season, accomplished November 7-22.
Gooden said he was doing his "Donyell Marshall impression" when he drained his first 3-pointer of the season from the left corner to give Cleveland a 100-85 lead with 1:49 to play.
Larry Hughes scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half and played solid defense on Ben Gordon, who was limited to just two points after a 22-point effort in Cleveland's 108-100 win in Chicago on December 22.
"When they bring their scorer off the bench, it's my job to not let (Gordon) get going," Hughes said. "In the first game, he hit a couple of shots on me."
All five Cleveland starters scored in double figures for the first time this season, including Eric Snow, who had a season-high 12 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas collected 10 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
"You take LeBron, Eric, and Larry, and between those three guys was 17 assists, which is a heck of an effort from those three guys sharing the basketball," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
Nocioni, Chris Duhon and Tyson Chandler all scored 15 points for the Bulls, who have lost a season-worst four straight games and five of their last six.
"Everybody that played gave a good effort. We kind of had a pop to our step most of the game," Skiles said. "We had them at 12 turnovers, we just didn't score off them. They scored off our turnovers."
"We competed, you can't fault that," Duhon said. "We got ourselves back in the game and we couldn't find ways to get stops."