Saturday, January 03, 2009
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LeBron gets triple-double as Cavs clobber Bulls

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[January 03, 2009]  CLEVELAND (AP) -- One big loss was enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, still perfect at home. Anderson Varejao scored a career-high 26 points, LeBron James had a triple-double and the Cavaliers stayed unbeaten on their floor with a 117-92 win Friday night over the Chicago Bulls after learning center Zydrunas Ilgauskas will miss a month with a fractured bone in his left ankle.

James finished with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Cavaliers improved to 17-0 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs also got a season-high 13 points from Ben Wallace, 13 from rookie J.J. Hickson and a season-high 13 from reserve Sasha Pavlovic. Delonte West added 14 points and Mo Williams had 11 as Cleveland's five starters all finished in double figures.

James scored 41 points in each of Cleveland's first two wins over Chicago this season, but the superstar was content to defer to others for most of the night. He didn't make his second field goal -- a 3-pointer -- until there was just 5:58 left. He grabbed rebound seconds later, brought them ball up the floor and drilled his second 3-pointer in a 16-second span to make it 104-80.

It was James' first triple-double this season and the 18th of his career.

He could get a few more in the coming weeks while Ilgauskas recovers.

Ben Gordon scored 22 points and Lindsey Hunter 13 for the Bulls, who shot just 37 percent and have lost five of six.

Ilgauskas first rolled his ankle trying to block a shot during a Dec. 10 game at Philadelphia. He missed just three games and medical tests taken at the time showed nothing more than a sprain. However, the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian whose left foot was surgically rebuilt eight years ago, continued to have soreness and swelling.

A second round of X-rays and an MRI revealed he fractured a bone in the back of his ankle.

He'll be in a walking boot for a week.

"One thing we don't want to do is rush it," Ilgauskas said. "We'll take it weekly and see how it goes -- we really don't know."

The Cavs lost their offensive rhythm while Ilgauskas was out, but they were sharp moving the ball and destroyed the Bulls, who were again without injured forwards Drew Gooden and Luol Deng.

James was able to draw double teams and find Varejao and Cleveland's other big men underneath for easy layups. Varejao, Wallace and Hickson combined for 52 points and 23 rebounds, more than making up for the 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds missing with Ilgauskas watching from the bench in street clothes.

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And as has become the norm this season, James made a spectacular defensive play as impressive as any of his dunks. Early in the third quarter, James cut across the lane and perfectly timed his jump to slap a layup by rookie Derek Rose off the backboard glass.

Cleveland's big men picked up the slack for Ilgauskas from the outset.

Wallace scored eight of the Cavs' first 21 points and finished the first quarter with five rebounds. Hickson added six points and Varejao five as the trio combined for 19 points and 10 rebounds in the period as Cleveland opened a 15-point lead it pushed to 25 in the third quarter.

Notes: Gooden remained back in Chicago for treatment on an ankle injury that has sidelined him for seven games. Coach Vinny Del Negro said Gooden could return for Saturday's home game against Minnesota. ... Hickson split his lip in the first quarter and needed one stitch to close the cut. ... Cavs F Wally Szczerbiak played six minutes after missing two games with a sore knee.

[Associated Press; By TOM WITHERS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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