James Sizzles, Rallies Cavaliers Past Suns
Cleveland 113, Phoenix 106
CLEVELAND, Jan. 29 (Ticker) -- LeBron James got hot just as the Phoenix Suns cooled down.
James erupted for 32 points in the second half and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers overcome a pair of double-digit deficits to post a 113-106 victory over the Suns.
Leandro Barbosa hit a 3-pointer with 7:50 left in the third quarter to put the Suns ahead, 72-55, before the Cavaliers came storming back. Cleveland outscored Phoenix, 58-34, the rest of the way, with James scoring 30 of the 58.
"Our guys showed a lot of composure," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We stopped (defensively) helping as much in the second half. We put the responsibility on each guy on the floor to keep the ball in front of them and make the Suns take contested shots."
Since dropping six in a row from Jan. 10-20, the Cavaliers now have reeled off five consecutive wins due to the electric James.
"We just did a good job of locking down on defense (in the second half)," James said. "We did a great job against Steve Nash in the second half."
James entered the game averaging 35.5 points and 7.7 assists over his last four outings and was even better Sunday, finishing with 44 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
He converted a three-point play with five minutes left in the third to cut the deficit to 76-67 and hit a 3-pointer at the 1:35 mark to make it 85-83. James finished with 16 points in the third quarter to cut the Phoenix lead to 87-84.
"(James) did what he had to do to get his team back in the game," Suns center Kurt Thomas said.
Aleksandar Pavlovic gave Cleveland a 95-93 lead on a driving layup with 7:40 to play and James extended the lead to 97-93 with a crowd-pleasing end-to-end display.
Barbosa got free for what looked like an uncontested layup that would have tied the score, but James swooped in from behind and blocked the shot into the backboard. Cleveland's Donyell Marshall rebounded and passed to James, who went all the way for an emphatic one-handed dunk that pushed the lead to 97-93 with 6:25 remaining.
"I never saw him," Barbosa said. "I asked coach, 'How did he get that ball?' I thought I was by myself. Guys on the bench said he ran like crazy to get that ball. It was unbelievable."
After a Nash layup, James put together another mini-spurt, hitting a jumper and another 3-pointer to put Cleveland ahead, 102-95, with 4:05 to play.
"The two keys to the game were in my opinion fast-break points and composure," Brown said. "In the first half the Suns got out on us and scored 20 points, but in the second half we limited them to only four points."
"It just got tougher for us to get baskets," Suns guard Eddie House said.
Pavlovic scored 15 points and Marshall had 14 for Cleveland.
"We were able to get out in transition and share the ball extremely well," Cavaliers guard Damon Jones said.
"We gave them their own poison," James said, referring to Cleveland's ability to push the ball.
Nash scored 24 points and Shawn Marion added 22 for Phoenix, which dropped to 2-2 on its season-high six-game road trip.
"Any way you slice it, we very easily gave up a 17-point lead," Nash said. "It was disappointing. We went cold. We probably didn't get enough penetration or ball movement."
The Suns were minus starting guard Raja Bell (right calf strain), who was a late scratch.
"For many reasons we missed Raja tonight," Nash added. "But we were up 17 in the third (quarter), so you can't make too many excuses. We didn't play well. We had the game in our control, we gave it up, and we couldn't get it back."
"In the first half, we couldn't miss," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Then we couldn't hold LeBron. He just went off. But that wasn't all of it. He had 46 against us at home and we won. It was the contributions of other players that hurt us tonight."