CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James has helped make the Cavaliers'
transformation from worst in the league to playoff contender a
James had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and Zydrunas
Ilgauskas added 29 points, and Cleveland beat the Milwaukee Bucks
106-97 Saturday night to put them in a three-way tie with Boston
and Miami for the final two playoff spots in the East.
The win came one night after a close win at New Orleans and gave
the Cavaliers their third sweep of back-to-back games this season.
"It shows how much we've grown to be able to play such an
emotional game last night ... and come back here and play another
really good team and beat them, too," Carlos Boozer said.
Boozer had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Jeff McInnis had a
season-high 12 assists for the Cavaliers, who won their third
"It's just all about us coming together," James said. "We're
coming together. We're putting four quarters together in one
James also had four steals to go with another array of
The Cavaliers led almost the entire way, but the Bucks climbed
back into it late in the third quarter behind Redd and Toni Kukoc.
Skinner had a three-point play with 9:37 left to give the Bucks
an 83-81 lead, their first since 1:10 into the game.
Cleveland responded with a 6-0 run behind strong play from James
and Ilgauskas, who blocked five shots.
The Cavaliers kept the Bucks from finding a rhythm and held them
to their lowest point total since the All-Star break.
"They played the night before and they were still more
aggressive than we were," Bucks coach Terry Porter said. "They
came out more focused and maybe with more of a sense of urgency."
James' top highlight came in the third quarter when he fully
extended to reach a high alley-oop pass from McInnis, then slammed
it home with his right hand. James got in Jones' face for a moment
after the play and was called for a technical.
"I wanted to see him really get up and jump," McInnis said.
James had three steals in the first quarter, including one that
he turned into a two-handed slam and energized the sold-out crowd.
The Cavaliers led 39-28 at the end of the first period. It was
their highest-scoring quarter of the season, topping the 38 they
had in the second quarter Jan. 6 against New York.
"We're letting teams come out and take the first punch against
us," Keith Van Horn said. "You can't do that, especially teams
that are fighting for playoff position."
Ilgauskas had 15 points in the quarter as Cleveland worked the
ball inside and scored 24 points in the paint.
Both teams played poorly in a sloppy second quarter, combining
for 14 turnovers. But the Cavaliers kept shooting well -- 59 percent
in the first half -- and took a 61-52 halftime lead.
The Cavaliers are 7-3 since the All-Star break. ... They
had lost five straight to the Bucks. ... Jeff McInnis has 67
assists to eight turnovers in the last seven games. ... The loss
dropped Milwaukee into a tie with New Orleans for the fourth
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