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James' 3rd straight triple-double gives Cavs win

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[March 13, 2009]  PHOENIX (AP) -- LeBron James got his third consecutive triple-double and a long-sought first win in Phoenix.

James had 34 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers won a road game against the Suns for the first time in a decade, 119-111 on Thursday night.

DonutsUS Airways Center was the only building in the NBA where James hadn't won. He was 0-5 here, not counting this year's All-Star game loss, coming into Thursday night's contest.

Mo Williams, who scored a career-high 44 the first time the teams met this season, added 30 for Cleveland, including 6-of-10 3s. Matt Barnes scored 21 and Steve Nash 20 as the Suns extended their losing streak to six games, their longest in six seasons.

James got the triple-double with a rebound with 2.8 seconds to play.

Sasha Pavlovic scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers. Cleveland made a season-best 17 3s in 33 attempts to win for the eighth time in nine games and improve to 13-2 since Jan. 30.


The Cavaliers, 2-0 on a three-game western swing, won their franchise-record 23rd road game, surpassing the 22 they had in 1991-92. Phoenix fell six games behind Dallas for the final playoff berth in the West.

Cleveland took control of the intense contest with a late 10-2 run after Grant Hill's three-point play cut the Cavs' lead to 101-100 with 7:04 remaining.

Williams hit a running 7-footer and a 3-pointer and James sank a 20-footer in the surge. James capped it with two free throws that made it 111-102 with 3:45 left. Nash's 3-pointer cut it to 113-109 with 2:11 remaining, but Williams sank another 3, James added two free throws, and the Suns were finished.

Phoenix was down 97-95 and had the ball for what looked to be a breakaway layup, but Jason Richardson's 360-degree spin dunk attempt was blocked by James. Pavlovic's third 3-pointer of the quarter made it 100-95 with 8:33 left. Richardson complained vehemently he was fouled on the play and drew a technical. Williams' subsequent free throw made it 101-95 with 8:32 to go. Television replays clearly showed James hit Richardson's wrist on the play.

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Richardson, who scored only two points in the first half, had the first eight in a 10-0 run that put Phoenix ahead 74-66 on Shaquille O'Neal's inside basket with 8:34 left in the third quarter.

But Wally Szczerbiak sank a pair of 3s in an 8-0 Cleveland surge that cut it to 84-83 with 2:37 to go in the period. Moments later, James crashed to the floor after running into Hill on a layup drive. He held his left knee but got to his feet, flexed the knee a few times, and stayed in the game.

Phoenix led 93-89 entering the fourth quarter on Hill's lob pass from out of bounds to Barnes for a layup with 1.5 seconds left in the third.

Notes: O'Neal fouled out. ... Suns coach Alvin Gentry used 11 players in the first half. ... Cleveland improved to 21-4 against the West. ... One more Cleveland victory or Detroit loss clinches the Central Division title for the Cavs. ... The Suns shot 55 percent in the first half against a Cleveland team that leads the NBA in defensive field goal percentage (.429).

[Associated Press; By BOB BAUM]

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

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