CLEVELAND, April 22 (Ticker) --
In his first playoff game, LeBron James
displayed much more verve than nerves.
James scored 32 points and notched a triple-double and the
Cleveland Cavaliers shut down the high-scoring trio of the
Washington Wizards for a 97-86 victory in Game One of their
Eastern Conference first-round series.
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scored an efficient 19 points for fourth-seeded
Cleveland, which dominated every facet of the game and looked
nothing like a team playing its first postseason contest in
It was James who led the Cavaliers to the playoffs and the
21-year-old wunderkind did not disappoint anyone in his debut on
the postseason stage. He overcame some early anxiety and gave
Cleveland control with a spectacular surge late in the first
In all, James made 12-of-27 shots and collected 11 assists and
11 rebounds. He played all but three-tenths of a second and
heard chants of "MVP!" throughout the game.
"It's a God-given talent," James said. "I don't know how the
boxscore will end up at the end of the game. I just try to go
out there and play hard and play my game."
"I had no idea that (James) had a triple-double," Cleveland
coach Mike Brown
said. "He never ceases to amaze me. The
things that he does offensively just blow you away."
James became the third player in NBA history to register a
triple-double in his playoff debut, joining Johnny McCarthy
(1960) and Magic Johnson (1980).
While James had no jitters, the fifth-seeded Wizards looked
wide-eyed. They did very little right as Gilbert Arenas
and Caron Butler
- the highest-scoring trio in the NBA
- were neutralized.
Averaging better than 67 points during the season, the trio was
limited to 21 points on 8-of-33 shooting through three quarters
before padding their numbers in the final period.
"I thought our guys did a solid job of making the paint look
crowded," Brown said. "And when they did kick the ball to their
shooters, I thought we tried to contest."
"We didn't want them to get in a comfort zone," James added.
A three-point play by Arenas gave Washington an 18-18 tie before
James took over. In just two minutes, he made a 3-pointer, a
three-point play and three free throws before finding Marshall
for a 3-pointer and a 30-18 lead.
"It was 18-18 and you just want to close the quarter the right
way," James said. "I was able to get in the seams and attack and
hit some jumpers, and I'm always looking for Donyell."
The Cavaliers led by double digits for all but 77 seconds
thereafter as the Wizards could not find a rhythm. Washington
shot less than 41 percent (29-of-71), including 3-of-22 from the
arc, and missed 11 free throws.
James got some help from Eric Snow
, who knocked down a handful
of jumpers and scored 14 points, and Marshall, who scored 11
points in the fourth quarter to help maintain the lead.
"I thought we did a decent job (of defending James) early, four
minutes I guess, and then he started breaking us down and making
shots," Washington coach Eddie Jordan
said. "Then we tried to
double-team those pick and rolls and he started finding people."
"We said we would keep (James) off his right hand. He went
right all night," Arenas said. "That is why he had a
triple-double against us."
and Flip Murray
scored 10 points each for the
Cavs, who shot 44 percent (38-of-87), held a 52-36 rebounding
advantage and committed just 10 turnovers. Game Two is here
"It felt great - the energy, the crowd," said Ilgauskas, a
rookie when the Cavaliers made their last playoff appearance in
1998. "You don't know how much you missed it."
"(Washington) didn't come out and play as well as they are
capable of playing," Marshall said. "I expect them to come back
in Game Two and play a lot better than they did tonight."
Arenas scored 17 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter but made
just 7-of-20 shots and fouled out. Jamison and Butler each
scored five of their 11 points in the final period.
"That was certainly playoff basketball by the Cavaliers and it
wasn't playoff basketball by the Wizards," Jordan said. "I
thought we tried to make a run, but you don't make a run if they
score, if you don't get stops."
scored 15 points and Antonio Daniels
added 14 for
Washington, which reached the conference semifinals a year ago.
"Coach probably thought I wasn't giving it out there," Arenas
said. "I tried to come out in the fourth quarter strong. The
first three quarters I tried to get everybody involved and help.
I wasn't aggressive enough."