Cleveland 96, New Jersey 91

CLEVELAND, Jan. 6 (AP)-- The Cavaliers are hitting the road packed with confidence.

LeBron James scored 19 points and added a season-high 13 rebounds as Cleveland finished off its most successful week in nearly 14 years with a 96-91 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.

By beating San Antonio, Boston, Milwaukee and New Jersey since Tuesday, the Cavaliers have won four games in five nights for the first time since Feb. 2-6, 1993. It's just the streak they were looking for before departing on a seven-game, two-week road trip.

"Just look at the box score,'' said James, who added four assists, three steals and three blocks in 44 minutes. "Everybody contributed.''

Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden scored 21 points apiece, Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 and Eric Snow had seven assists - his biggest on an extra-effort play down the stretch - as the Cavs improved to 15-3 at home this season and 26-3 since March 5.

Cleveland's first week of 2007 included a pair of road wins (Boston and Milwaukee), raising the club's record to just 6-9 in away games, a mark the Cavs hope to improve on their longest road trip this season.

On a similar out-of-town excursion last year, the Cavs dropped six in a row before finally winning.

"We don't want to do that again,'' James said.

Vince Carter and Mikki Moore each had 18 points and Richard Jefferson 17 for the Nets, who after trailing most of the night, pulled within 93-91 on Jefferson's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left.

Gooden gave the Nets a chance to tie it by missing one of two free throws with 9.3 seconds to go. However, Carter misfired on a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining and Gooden sealed Cleveland's seventh win in eight games by hitting a pair of free throws in the final second.

"It was a good look,'' Carter said. "A little bit short.''

Carter's jumper with 4:30 to play tied it 83-all, but on Cleveland's next trip, James drove and whipped a pass underneath to Ilgauskas for a dunk.

Snow then made the game's biggest play, diving to tip a loose ball ahead to James, who went in for a reverse slam to make it 87-83 with 3:26 left.

"I call him the pit bull,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said of Snow. "He sticks his nose in there, his fingers in there. He's going to bite you, fight you, scratch you, claw you and he's going to come up with the big play.''

Held to eight points - his lowest output since Dec. 29, 2004 - in Friday's win at Milwaukee, James only had nine in the first 35 minutes before scoring twice in the final 43 seconds of the third quarter as the Cavaliers took a 71-65 lead into the fourth.

James' flurry came shortly after tempers flared when Hughes and New Jersey's Bostjan Nachbar got tangled as they headed up court. The pair went tumbling to the floor in a heap, and players from both sides rushed to separate them before things got nastier.

The Nets didn't have their usual size as big men Jason Collins (strained lower back) and rookie Josh Boone (migraine) were inactive.

Cleveland outscored New Jersey 13-3 to open the second quarter and the Cavaliers built a 16-point lead before Jefferson and Kidd hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Nets close within 46-38 at halftime.

The Nets put themselves in a big hole on Friday, falling behind 18-0 at the start before rallying to beat Chicago. They scored on their first possession against Cleveland, but after being tied 12-all, the Cavaliers went on a 12-2 run and led 27-21 entering the second.

"It was kind of like last night,'' Kidd said. "We were down 18-0 and then we started to play. Once we figure out that we don't have to be down so much to come back, we'll be better off.''

Notes: James, a devoted Ohio State fan, predicts the Buckeyes will beat Florida 31-27 in Monday's BCS national championship. ... Cleveland, which begins its trip Tuesday in Sacramento, won't play at home again until Jan. 22. ... Frank is hoping Collins, who didn't make the trip, will be able to play Tuesday against Toronto. ... Boone has had a history of severe headaches and has been bothered by them two other times in the last three months, Frank said. ... Gooden's 31-point, 16-board performance on Friday made him just the fifth player this season to get more than 30 points and 15 rebounds. Yao Ming, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer and Dirk Nowitzki are the others.


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