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Cavaliers top Mavs 102-74 for 12th straight win

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[March 30, 2009]  CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers turned 60 and didn't mind one bit.

LeBron James scored 24 points with 12 assists and orchestrated Cleveland's show on and off the floor as the Cavs made more history with a 102-74 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, extending their winning streak to a franchise record 12 straight.

The Cavs, who earlier this week surpassed the club mark for wins in a season, trailed 35-20 in the first quarter and 49-47 at halftime. But Cleveland outscored Dallas 30-11 in the third quarter and 55-25 in the second half to improve to a league-best 35-1 at home.

RestaurantCleveland is the 61st team to win 60 games in the regular season.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 for the Mavericks.

The 28-point win was the largest in Cleveland's 56 games against the Mavericks.

Mo Williams added 22 and Joe Smith had his best game since returning to the Cavs. The veteran forward had 12 points, 13 rebounds and was Cleveland's only consistent player in the first half.

Jason Kidd, who missed Dallas' previous game with a sore back, had nine points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The Cavaliers, who trailed by 15 in the second quarter, didn't need long to turn things around and run their record to 25-4 against Western Conference teams.


James fed center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for three straight jumpers as Cleveland outscored Dallas 10-1 in the opening minutes of the third quarter. James then scored on a layup and made two straight jumpers before threading a pass to Anderson Varejao, whose dunk gave Cleveland a 68-52 lead.

The Mavericks couldn't get anything going against Cleveland's suffocating defense, and when James pulled up and knocked down a 3-pointer, the Cavs were on their way to win No. 12 in a row.

On Cleveland's next trip, Williams pulled up for a 3-pointer that missed. But before the shot bounced off the rim, a retreating James ran over referee Derek Richardson near midcourt. James crashed hard to the floor and laid there for several moments as Cleveland fans quieted and his teammates gathered around.

But he popped to his feet, and it wasn't long before he was dancing on Cleveland's sideline during a timeout and mugging for the camera as the Cavs' reserves finished off the Mavericks, who came into the game holding down the No. 8 spot in the cluttered Western Conference standings.

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Following player introductions, James and his teammates held a mock baseball game with Williams hitting an imaginary home run. With James as their ringleader, the Cavs, now 20-2 since the All-Star break, recently began staging pregame productions before tipoff.

It's all in good fun, and no team is having more fun than the Cavs right now.

James didn't get his first field goal until there was just 4:45 left before halftime, but it was worth the wait.

Driving the right baseline, he crushed a two-handed dunk as Nowitzki watched helplessly. The bucket capped a 17-4 spurt by Cleveland, slicing Dallas' 15-point lead to 39-37. Williams, who missed his first seven shots, finally got a few to fall and the Cavs were somehow within 49-47 at halftime despite James and Williams each shooting 3-of-11.

Notes: On Saturday, James was in Columbus cheering on his alma mater, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, which won its fifth state basketball title. James sat behind the bench but spent much of the game nervously pacing and chewing his nails. "That's what I live for," he said. "St. V is where I played. Once you go there, you're always part of that tradition. I think everyone wearing green and gold was proud of what happened." ... Mavericks F Josh Howard missed his 11th straight game with a sore left ankle. Dallas' third-leading scorer hasn't played since March 5.

[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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