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 James can't lead Cavs past Wizards, who win 80-77

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PostSubject: James can't lead Cavs past Wizards, who win 80-77   Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:00 am

WASHINGTON(AP) Was it a walk?LeBron
James wants the NBA to take a closer look at what he calls his "crab
dribble.'' The move, James insists, does not constitute traveling.A referee disagreed Sunday.James
was whistled for taking an extra step while driving for a potential
tying layup with 2.3 seconds left, and his Cleveland Cavaliers lost
80-77 to the Eastern Conference-worst Washington Wizards despite wiping
out a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter."Bad call,'' said
James, who compiled 30 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. "We all
make mistakes, and I think I got the wrong end of the bargain. I
watched it 10 times after the game, and it was clearly a good play.''Without
raising his voice or getting particularly animated, James dissected the
game's key sequence in extensive detail - even pointing out that he
felt he was fouled as he released the shot, which went in.His biggest beef, though, was with what he considered a misunderstanding of the way he moved to the basket."You
have your trademark play, and that's one of my plays. It kind of looks
like a travel because it's slow, and it's kind of a high-step, but it's
a one-two just as fluent as any other one-two in this league. I got the
wrong end of it, but I think they need to look at it - and they need to
understand that's not a travel,'' James said. "It's a perfectly legal
play, something I've always done.''Indeed, Washington's Caron
Butler - who scored 19 points and guarded James most of the game,
including on that closing play - remembers that same move, without an
official's call, from one of the teams' recent playoff meetings."I
definitely knew he traveled, but I didn't know they were going to call
it,'' Butler said about what happened Sunday. "That was one of them
situations in which a great player made a move, good officiating, and
they called the call. And I was like, 'Oh, man, there is a God.'''That
was hardly the only contentious moment in a game between teams that
faced each other the past three postseasons, with Cleveland winning
every series.There was some trash talk between James and injured
Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, who was out with a bad back and sat on
the sideline in a burgundy velvet jacket and bow tie. There was the
homemade sign held by a Wizards fan that showed James with a blue tear
on his cheek and "Crybaby'' written in place of "Cavaliers'' on his
white headband and blue shirt. Oh, and there was the ejection of
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, who ran nearly the length of the court to
protest an offensive foul call against James with about 6 1/2 minutes
left.The Cavs were down 70-54 early in the fourth quarter, then
71-58 after Butler made one of two technical free throws when Brown was
tossed for all his pointing and yelling.With assistant coach
John Kuester running the team after Brown was restrained and led off
the court, the Cavs chipped away until James' drive with 1:01 left tied
it at 77-all."We're not saying we want Mike Brown to get thrown
out if we're flat or not making shots. We're not saying that,'' James
said. "But sometimes you need a coach to do something, and that
definitely fired us up.''None of his teammates scored more than
13 points, the Cavaliers shot 39 percent for the game and they were
held to their lowest point total this season.At 77-77,
Cleveland's Delonte West missed a 3-point attempt, and Dominic McGuire
grabbed the rebound while being scratched below the left eye by James,
drawing some blood. The Wizards called timeout and set up Antawn
Jamison's baseline jumper with 10.5 seconds left"That just gave us a sigh of relief,'' Butler said.Jamison
led Washington with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while McGuire had 10
points and 10 rebounds for his first NBA double-double.Cleveland's
next possession ended with James' travel, and Butler added a free throw
for the final margin. James fell into the courtside seats while trying
a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer.How surprising is
this result? The Central Division-leading Cavaliers (27-6) are
neck-and-neck with the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics for the
best record in the East, while the Wizards (7-25) aren't even close to
climbing out of last place. No other club in the conference has fewer
than 12 victories.And yet when these teams last played, on
national TV on Dec. 25, Washington led by seven with a little more than
1 1/2 minutes left before Cleveland closed with an 11-0 run to win."I
was pulling for the guys to pull it through, to find a way to kind of
sneak this one by them like we did the last game,'' Brown said, "but it
didn't happen.''It did not, and the Wizards noted what interim
coach Ed Tapscott had written in red on the grease board in their
locker room: "REDEMPTION.''Notes: Wizards PG Gilbert Arenas
played 2-on-2 for the first time Saturday as he recuperates from a
third operation in 1 1/2 years on his left knee. The Wizards won't say
when Arenas is expected to begin practicing. ... Cleveland's previous
low point total was 85, in its season-opening loss to Boston.

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