LeBron James has helped the Cleveland Cavaliers climb back to .500 for the first time in more than a month. It will likely be a long time before Kevin Durant can do the same for the Seattle SuperSonics.
In a matchup between two of the most highly touted draft picks of the last five years, James looks to continue his hot streak as the Cavaliers go for their sixth win in seven games on Tuesday when they host Durant and the struggling SuperSonics.
James, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft, has averaged 28.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists in his last six games to help Cleveland (17-17) go 5-1 in that stretch. He led the Cavaliers to a 93-90 victory in Toronto on Sunday, helping the team get back to .500 for the first time since it was 9-9 on Dec. 2.
"It's huge," Cavs forward Drew Gooden said. "It's kind of like a breath of fresh air when it happens."
The defending Eastern Conference champions would have languished with a losing record even longer had it not been for James' spectacular finish on Sunday. James was 8-for-10 from the field and had 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers overcame a 13-point deficit.
"I just felt like I was out there by myself," said James, who has scored at least 30 points in the second half of two of his last three games. "Everything was going right for me and I just felt like I was out there in practice. The hoop felt like the ocean."
James will try to continue to carry the Cavaliers when they meet the SuperSonics (9-24) for the first time since Seattle selected Durant with the second overall pick in last June's draft.
Durant leads all rookies with 19.9 points per game, but he's shooting just 40.7 percent from the field while receiving most of opponents' defensive attention.
Durant had 19 points and six rebounds on Sunday, but missed 14 of his 21 field-goal attempts in Seattle's 108-86 loss at Washington. Durant, a Washington native, wasn't pleased with his first NBA homecoming.
"I don't want to say I was pressing," he said. "I think I was taking quality shots - shots I normally take throughout the game. Wide-open shots from the corner, I was missing, and going to the rim and missing layups."
Seattle was outscored 30-17 in the fourth quarter to lose for the fifth time in six games - a finish that doesn't bode well for a team visiting James' Cavaliers.
"One of the things I feel we have done consistently all year is compete. We just didn't compete in the fourth quarter," said Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team is shooting 39.8 percent during its three-game losing streak. "We have to be ready to play right away. We can't come in casually, get warmed up and then turn it up."
Seattle and Cleveland split their season series in 2006-07, with the home team winning each game. The Sonics have lost three of their last four in Cleveland after winning eight straight there from 1995-2002.
James has averaged 30.1 points in seven career games against Seattle.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited