James Comes Through As Cavs Top Hornets
Cleveland 103, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 101
OKLAHOMA CITY, April 10 (Ticker) -- LeBron James dealt what could prove to be a fatal blow to the New Orleans Hornets' playoff hopes.
James scored 32 points and drilled a jumper with five-tenths of a second remaining, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 103-101 victory over the Hornets.
James, who had his streak of consecutive games with at least 35 points snapped at nine, provided the winning margin by pulling up at the top of the circle and sinking a 23-footer over Desmond Mason. The 21-year-old phenom let out a big yell following the clutch hoop.
"It's a big win for us considering we were down at halftime," James said. "We proved win can win any kind of game, up tempo games, grind it out games, and especially games on the road. That shows how much our team has grown."
"LeBron James is amazing," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We got exactly what we wanted on the last possesion. Spread the floor, and let number 23 make a play. I don't care what he does with the basketball, LeBron is going to make the play to win us the ballgame. He is the MVP of the league."
Following a timeout, the Hornets were unable to get off a final shot.
Rookie Chris Paul scored 22 points and Speedy Claxton 14 for the Hornets (37-40), who fell 3 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers (41-37) and Sacramento (41-37) for the Western Conference's final playoff spot with five games left.
"This loss hurts us getting into the playoffs," Paul said. "We didn't come out aggressive in the second half and they took advantage of it."
Mason split a pair of free throws with 5.8 seconds left to tie the game at 101-101, before James came through.
David West scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, helping the Hornets to 63-52 lead at the break.
However, the Hornets scored just 12 points on 3-of-18 shooting in the third quarter that ended with the Cavaliers holding an 81-75 lead. Murray scored 13 points in the period.
"We blew it tonight," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "After 77 games, you shouldn't come out lackadaisical in the third quarter. Especially at this point of the season. We have to win these next five games to get into the playoffs. It's as simple as that."