Cleveland 103, Miami 79

CLEVELAND, Feb. 9 (AP) -- With a straight face, LeBron James insisted he wasn't trying to prove a point or silence any critics. That's not how it looked, though.

James ended a mini-scoring slump with 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers did a better job containing Miami's Dwyane Wade on Friday night in a 103-79 victory, snapping the Heat's five-game winning streak.

James had averaged just 17.7 points - almost nine under his average - on 39 percent shooting in the past four games. But going head-to-head against his good friend Wade, and perhaps inspired by his doubters, brought out the best in James, who scored 16 points after halftime and added seven rebounds and six assists.

Recently, James had taken heat for his poor free-throw shooting and for the Cavaliers' inability to win showcase games against quality opponents. For now, that kind of talk should quiet down.

"I don't care about that stuff, us being 0-5 on national television and LeBron not being the same player he was,'' he said. "I don't get into that. My teammates know what I'm capable of.''

Wade finished with 27 points, but he never got a chance to take over the way he did a week ago when he outscored Cleveland 24-23 in the fourth quarter and had a season-high 41 points in Miami's 92-89 win.

Sasha Pavlovic scored 15 points, added a career-high six assists and made the game's biggest defensive play on Wade in the fourth when the Cavs, who played their most complete game this month, pulled away.

Shaquille O'Neal had 14 points in his seventh game back since undergoing surgery on his left knee. The Heat were held to 43 percent shooting and failed to score at least 90 points for the first time in 18 games.

"It was a sluggish game for us,'' Wade said. "I don't know why. All of us were a little sluggish and Cleveland took advantage of it.''

Last week, the Cavaliers blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter when they were unable to slow Wade. They led by 12 points after three quarters this time, but before they let Wade get warmed up, Cleveland pushed its lead to 17 on two nice plays by Pavlovic.

He first surprised Wade near the top of the key by slapping the ball away from the Miami All-Star. Pavlovic grabbed it and sent a pass ahead to James, whose dunk made it 81-64 with 8:19 remaining.

"There's no stopping him,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said of Wade. "You have to make him work for everything. I thought our guys did a nice job of doing that, and he still almost got 30. He's a handful.''

After the Heat closed within 12, the Cavaliers reeled off eight straight points, with James twice threading inside passes to Anderson Varejao for easy buckets.

James, who has been slowed by a sprained right big toe, capped the third quarter with a vicious dunk over Alonzo Mourning to give the Cavs a 69-57 lead.

Dribbling near the foul line, James spotted an opening and drove the right side before cocking his arm and delivering a facial on Mourning, who wasn't called for a foul despite striking the All-Star forward in the nose.

Wade had nearly as many turnovers (5) as points (7) in the first half, but Miami's slashing superstar doubled his scoring total in the first four minutes of the third as the Heat began cutting into an 11-point deficit.

But the Cavaliers responded and pushed their lead back to double digits thanks to rookie Daniel Gibson. He faked an outside jumper, took off toward the basket and turned in the air before bouncing into the 300-pound-plus O'Neal while being fouled and making an off-balance layup for a 60-49 lead.

Gibson missed his free throw, but his bravery inspired the Cavs.

"He could have smushed me,'' Gibson said. "It was either me or him. I better be careful because next time he might murder me.''

Lately, Pavlovic has made the most of more playing time and came in averaging 13.8 points in his last five games. He had an immediate impact, scoring 11 of Cleveland's 17 points in one stretch as the Cavaliers took a 44-33 halftime lead.

Notes: Cavs G Damon Jones boldly predicted he will win the 3-point shooting contest at All-Star Weekend, beating out Miami's Jason Kapono and others. To underscore his boast, Jones wore a tailored military jacket to the game with a "Sniper'' patch on the left sleeve. "I just wanted Jason to know that I have sniper status,'' he said. Kapono chuckled when told about Jones' fashion statement. "Impressive. I guess he wants his suits to match his style - an assassin.'' ... Ron Rothstein, filling in as Miami's coach while Pat Riley recovers from knee and hip surgeries, likes being a part-time boss. "I can't even fathom grinding 82 (games),'' he said. ... Trying to slow O'Neal, Cavs F Scot Pollard picked up three personal fouls in 2:34. He didn't play in the second half because of back spasms.

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