Cavs Extend Winning Streak to Nine Games
Cleveland 124, Philadelphia 91
CLEVELAND, April 4 (Ticker) -- LeBron James made the Philadelphia 76ers his latest victim.
James scored 37 points in another huge effort as the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games with a 124-91 triumph over the 76ers.
Once again, it was James leading the way for the Cavs. The 21-year-old phenom scored at least 35 points for the seventh straight game as he made 13-of-22 shots in 35 minutes.
"I'm just in a zone right now," James said. "It is a great feeling. My teammates are giving me the ball in comfortable positions. I'm hitting shots and we are winning ballgames, that is the main thing."
After building their huge halftime lead, the Cavaliers were just as good in the third quarter, as they made their first nine shots. Gooden scored 11 points in the period that ended with the Cavaliers holding a 99-80 lead.
The Cavaliers did receive mixed news on the injury front. Guard Larry Hughes, who had missed the previous 45 games with a right finger fracture, scored 10 points in 19 minutes in his return to the lineup.
"I told myself I would try to get my rhythm on defense before I would try it offense," Hughes said. "It's process. You can't get it all back in one night."
"To see a talent like (Larry Hughes) back on the floor again and doing what he loves to do was exciting," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He'll need nine or so games to get in rhythm."
However, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas left early in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle.
"When (Ilgauskas) went out with the ankle sprain, we needed an inside presence and coach called my number three times and I converted them," Gooden said.
"Drew was fantastic and he stepped up big," Brown said. "As you know, Drew can play."
Cleveland (45-29), which shot 57 percent (47-of-83), remained 6 1/2 games ahead of Washington for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"We expected to make the playoffs this year," James said. It's the regular season right now, but the playoffs are near and we are very excited about them."
The Cavaliers enjoyed their best offensive output of the season and are on their longest winning streak since a 10-game run early in the 1997 campaign.
Allen Iverson scored 38 points and Chris Webber 21 for Philadelphia (34-39), which is one-half game in front of Chicago for the final playoff spot in the East.
"They opened the game up with some threes," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I think it was a five-point game, we had two foul shots, we had a missed dunk, and it opened up after that. "
Iverson made 10-of-25 shots and 17-of-19 free throws while also handing out eight assists.
"Mo (Cheeks) said after the game everyone needed to come to play," Iverson said. "He really felt like some guys came to play, some guys didn't. That is not a good thing if a coach honestly feels that way because at this point in the season and the magnitude of all these games, everybody should show up ready to play."