WASHINGTON, April 28 (Ticker) -- LeBron James
again made history and more
importantly, gave the the Cleveland Cavaliers the playoff edge.
James scored 14 of his record-setting 41 points in the fourth
quarter, including a tough banker with 5.7 seconds remaining, to
help the Cavaliers capture a hard-fought 97-96 triumph over the
Washington Wizards in Game Three of their first-round series.
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The heralded 21-year-old James added to his growing legacy by
eclipsing the league record for the most points in a road
postseason debut - 40 by David Thompson and Kelley Tripucka -
while giving fourth-seeded Cleveland a 2-1 edge in the series.
"LeBron James is special," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown
"Folks, he scored 41 points on 28 field-goal (attempts) with
nine free-throw attempts. I'm not a math major, but I don't
even know how that can add up to 41 points. A heck of an effort
With the Cavaliers trailing, 96-95, in the waning seconds, James
drove past Antonio Daniels
and hung in the air before hitting a
short banker over Michael Ruffin
to give Cleveland the lead in
the pivotal contest.
"We ran a play in the first half that looked pretty good," James
said. "We came back to it in the fourth quarter, side
pick-and-roll, with me and Larry (Hughes). I had Antonio
Daniels on me and I didn't want to force the jump shot. I
wanted to get into the paint. I was able to get him off his feet
and take contact with Michael Ruffin. It was a good play
designed by coach."
"At the end of the ballgame, defensively you've got to pick your
poison," Brown said. "If you don't come to double him, he's
going to make the right play. Nobody came to double. He drove
the ball to the rim and he took a hard hit and still finished
, whose three-point play gave Washington a
one-point advantage before James' shot, had a wide-open look at
a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but the shot rimmed out and
fell into the waiting arms of Cavaliers forward
"It went in and came out," Arenas said. "You're going to miss
more than you make in your career. I missed that one, but I'm
going to have more opportunities to make them. I thought it was
going in. It was there, just a little off. It just wasn't our
day. We fought all 48 minutes of this basketball game and we
deserved this win."
"I thought we got a good look at the basket but it didn't fall,"
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan
said. "We've had a whole lot of
these games all year long. It seems that every loss was right
at the buzzer, and they are all heartbreakers. But we have to
Arenas doesn't want any more games to go down to the last shot
against James and the Cavaliers.
"We had 17 turnovers and we still lost the game by one point,"
Arenas said. "We've just got to beat them. We're not going to
beat them in a close game, we've just got to flat-out beat them
- let it be known that we're beating them. If it's within two,
three, I mean, they have the advantage. We've just got to
flat-out beat them."
Arenas finished with 32 points and Caron Butler
collected 20 and
11 rebounds for the Wizards, who lost home court advantage
after seizing it with an 89-84 road victory in Game Two.
Hughes finished with 16 points, but shot just 6-of-15 from the
floor, which was indicative of James' teammates, and resulted in
the phenom finishing with just three assists.
"He didn't really look to look for his teammates as often as he
did in the first two games," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison
said. "I think he really took this game personally and he
wanted to really come out and play well."
Cleveland, which had not won a road playoff game since 1995,
will try to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Game Four here
"We've been knocked on our behinds a few times and our guys have
seemed to find a way to respond and it was no different
tonight," Brown said. "I thought both teams were physical and
in the second half, our defense stepped up a little bit."