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 Cavaliers storm back to stun Wizards

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PostSubject: Cavaliers storm back to stun Wizards   Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:40 pm

CLEVELAND(AP) In a generous, gift-giving
mood, the Cleveland Cavaliers nearly handed a precious win to one of
the NBA's neediest teams.Down by seven points in the final
minutes to woeful Washington and their home winning streak in serious
jeopardy, the Cavaliers clamped down on defense, made their free throws
and scored 11 straight points in the final 1:33 to beat the Wizards
93-89 Thursday nightMo Williams scored 24 points, and LeBron
James and Delonte West had 18 apiece for the Cavs, who had to scrap to
improve to 15-0 on their home floor and remain the league's only
unblemished team at home.Afterward, James knew he and his teammates salvaged what would have been a depressing holiday."Would have ruined my Christmas,'' he said.Cleveland,
which had played flawlessly at home most of this season, trailed 89-82
before storming back with three free throws by James, a 3-pointer by
Williams and five more foul shots in the last 26 seconds. But none of
that would have been possible if the Cavs' hadn't done it with their
defense as Williams and Ben Wallace drew charging fouls to fuel the
final push.Antawn Jamison scored 28 points, and Mike James 26
for the Wizards, who dropped their eighth straight and continue to find
new ways to lose. Washington has lost 13 games it has led in the fourth
quarter this season.Some of the Wizards weren't happy with calls that could have gone either down the stretch."It's
tough because we had a chance to win,'' James said. "We're up six and
the calls didn't go our way, man. But that's the way it goes
sometimes.''The Cavaliers' home winning streak was as good as
history when Jamison drained a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to put the
Wizards ahead by seven points.But James was fouled shooting a 3
and, after starting 3-of-7 from the line, Cleveland's superstar made
three straight from the line to pull Cleveland to 89-85. Williams then
drew a charge on Jamison in the lane and then demanded the ball from
James and got it before hitting a 3-pointer to make it 89-88 with 1:03
to go.James missed for Washington and Jamison fouled out while
battling Anderson Varejao for a rebound. Varejao, a 68 percent
free-throw shooter, made both to give the Cavs a 90-88 lead, and
Cleveland got the ball right back when Caron Butler was called for
charging into Ben Wallace. The Wizards had to foul and Williams made
them pay by hitting two free throws to make it 92-89.The Wizards
still had a chance to tie, but James, recently acquired in a trade from
Memphis, missed a 3-pointer and West made 1-of-2 foul shots to ice it."Not a pretty one and we're not satisfied at all,'' LeBron James said. "But we'll take the win.''During
their home streak, the Cavs have been blowing teams out, but a a sloppy
third quarter left them in an unfamiliar position of trailing entering
the fourth.The Wizards turned nine turnovers by Cleveland in the
third into 13 points and Mike James scored eight straight points in the
final 2:40 as Washington opened a 71-68 lead, stunning Cavs fans who
had been in a festive mood from the opening tip.The
Wizards-Cavaliers' holiday matchup looked great on paper before the
season started. After all, the clubs have met in the playoffs three
straight years with last season's series best remembered for
Washington's hard fouls on James as well as DeShawn Stevenson's endless
trash talking at Cleveland's superstar.James hasn't forgotten Washington's tactics."They
tried to take me mentally out of the game in the series and tied and
tried and tried and it never worked,'' he said. "Bad plan, I guess.''Overmatched
because of injuries to All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas (knee) and center
Brendan Haywood (wrist), Washington is off to the worst start in
franchise history and has already had a coaching change before the end
of the calendar year.As James performed his pregame routine of
tossing hand chalk into the air, the sellout crowd threw packets of
white confetti aloft with him, creating a blizzard-like effect inside
Quicken Loans Arena. The theatrical stunt was to promote James' new
Nike "chalk'' shoe, one of several variations he has worn this season."That was unbelievable,'' James said of the indoor snowstorm. "I will never forget that.''The Wizards, though, weren't about to be used as props and built a 25-22 lead after one.But
with James on the bench, the Cavaliers, who have built leads all season
while he has rested, went on a 20-9 run to open the second and were
poised for another early blowout. Jamison wouldn't let it happen as he
scored 17 points in the first half to keep the Wizards to 49-47 at
halftime.Notes: The Wizards intended to wear their blue road
jerseys, which included a white holiday snowflake on the front. But
James wanted to wear blue to match his new Nike "chalk'' shoes and the
Cavaliers sent an employee to Washington to fetch the Wizards' white
jerseys. ... James didn't ask for anything for Christmas, but he got
what he wanted anyway. "My girlfriend got me pajamas and a back
scratcher,'' he said. "I always want my back scratched and she doesn't
want to do it all the time. I wanted a back scratcher bad as hell.''
... Cleveland made a season-high 12 3-pointers.

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