Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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LeBron James scores 41 as Cavs beat Bucks 99-93

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[November 12, 2008]  CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James matched a season-high with 41 points, finally putting Milwaukee away with a steal and soaring dunk in the final minutes, and Mo Williams scored 16 against his former team as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fifth straight, 99-93, over the Bucks on Tuesday night.

InsuranceJames scored 12 in the fourth quarter and didn't come out in the second half while playing a season-best 43 minutes.

With Cleveland leading by five, James poked away a pass intended for Richard Jefferson, streaked to the other end and lifted off one step inside the foul line before smashing the ball through the hoop. Moments later, he dropped an outside jumper and then drove through the lane for a finger roll to give the Cavs an 11-point lead.

It was the third time in four games that James has scored 41.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 points and Anderson Varejao 13 with 10 rebounds for Cleveland.

Jefferson scored 19 and Luke Ridnour 17 -- 14 in the third -- to pace the Bucks, who were again without leading scorer Michael Redd. He missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle. Redd tried to practice on Tuesday, but "was noticeably limping," coach Scott Skiles said. "It was clear he wasn't ready."

Williams, acquired by Cleveland in a trade this summer from Milwaukee, downplayed his first matchup against his old team saying it was "just another day."


His new teammates played like it was just another game for much of the night before closing out the Bucks, who were within 88-83 when James made his game-sealing steal and dunk.

The Cavs led by six points at half and quickly pushed their lead to 11 as Williams hit a 3-pointer and dropped two free throws to open the third quarter.

But Ridnour got hot. He hit two 3-pointers and went 5-for-5 from the field in the period as Milwaukee opened a 69-66 lead with 2:20 left. James, though, responded by making three straight outside jumpers, the last one at the horn to give Cleveland a 74-71 lead entering the fourth.

James was in China at the Beijing Olympics when the Cavaliers acquired Williams, trading forward Joe Smith and guard Damon Jones in a three-team trade with Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. Jones isn't even with the Bucks, who are allowing him to pursue other opportunities in the league.

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James couldn't remember his first thought at learning of the deal, but he knew he liked it.

"I knew the type of player that he was," James said. "He has explosiveness. He took over games."

He did against the Cavs. Williams helped Milwaukee go 3-1 against Cleveland last season, averaging 26 points and nine assists in the four games.

This season, Williams has stabilized Cleveland's backcourt, given the club another scoring option and become the point guard the Cavs have coveted since James turned pro. Williams has been everything the Cavs could have hoped for.

"Even a little bit more," James said.

Notes: Longtime Cavs radio play-by-play announcer Joe Tait led the crowd in a standing ovation before the opening tip for former Indians pitcher and broadcaster Herb Score, who died Tuesday at the age of 75. Tait called Indians games on the radio alongside Score from 1973-79. ... The Cavs came in shooting 85 percent (76-of-89) on free throws in their past three games, their highest percentage in a three-game span since 2005. Cleveland went 26-of-32 from the line.

[Associated Press; By TOM WITHERS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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