Despite 38 points, LeBron's pro record on birthdays falls to 0-3

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade embraced LeBron James after the final

horn sounded, whispering a birthday greeting into his close

friend's ear.

Even with that, it wasn't a happy 24th for King James.

Wade had 21 points and 12 assists, Mario Chalmers was 6-for-7

from 3-point range in a 21-point, eight-assist, no-turnover effort,

and the Miami Heat dropped James' pro record on birthdays to 0-3 by

beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-95 on Tuesday night.

"It's sad," James said. "I'm going to cry."

No, he wasn't serious.

But during a scintillating second half, James seemed as though

he was going to put a damper on Miami's collective mood.

Fittingly, he scored 24 of his game-high 38 points after

intermission, almost enough to rally Cleveland from a 16-point

deficit -- its largest of the season. He hit a 3-pointer with 8:55

remaining to get the Cavs to 78-77, then turned and had something

to say to the Miami bench, something he did often Sunday, when

Cleveland erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat

the visiting Heat.

Only this time, Miami got the last word.

A surprising switch to zone defense not only stopped Cleveland's

offense in its tracks, it sparked a 16-3 run over a 4-minute

stretch of the final quarter -- the final blow in handing the Cavs

just their fifth loss in 31 games this season.

"We weren't into a nice birthday present this time around for

LeBron," Wade said. "He got one the other night in Cleveland."

Daequan Cook scored 17 points -- with all five field goals being

3-pointers, meaning he and Chalmers combined to go 11-for-14 from

beyond the arc -- for the Heat. Shawn Marion (14 points, 11

rebounds) and Udonis Haslem (13 points, 10 rebounds) added

double-doubles for Miami.

"We have to give their young cats, Cook and Chalmers, credit,"

Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "They stepped up and hit big shot

after big shot."

Delonte West scored 20 for Cleveland, which had won six

straight, and Mo Williams added 10 for the Cavaliers.

Chalmers hit a 3-pointer with 7:11 left, then stripped James and

went in for an easy layup, part of a 9-0 run that gave Miami an

87-77 lead. Later, Chalmers hit Cook for a 3-pointer, putting the

Heat up by 14, and the sellout crowd bellowed as the rookie guard

from Kansas pointed skyward and Wade pumped a fist in celebration.

Miami, the NBA's worst team last year, has already beaten two

legitimate title contenders -- the Lakers and now the Cavaliers -- at

home this season.

"It's a long season. We've still got a couple tough teams

coming in," Haslem said. "But obviously, one thing you do want to

do throughout the season is take care of home."

Wade didn't need to do all the scoring: He was 7-for-23 from the


But like James, he also played the entire second half,

quarterbacking everything Miami did.

"I told him during the first timeout, 'This is your rest. Enjoy

it,"' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "If James wasn't coming

out, neither was he."

If there was a hangover from wasting a chance to spoil

Cleveland's still-perfect home record Sunday night, the Heat didn't

show it in the early going.

Wade came up with the first highlight, diving out of bounds to

save the ball, then taking a seat in a fan's lap as Chalmers hit a

3-pointer for a quick 13-9 lead. And at intermission, Miami seemed

to have Cleveland totally befuddled - the Cavs shot 10-for-32 in

the first half and faced their biggest deficit of the season,



Not hardly -- not with James around.

Cleveland shot 72 percent, more than doubling its first-half

showing, in the third quarter, with James getting 14 points and two

assists. The Cavs closed the third on a 10-2 run, with James

getting eight of those points, to set up a wild finish.

"They had us pretty good at halftime, but to our credit we got

it down to one," James said. "We just couldn't finish it."

Game notes
Wade went out with James and his close friends Monday night

for a birthday party, but didn't get a gift. "He's got more money

than me," Wade said. ... Plenty of celebrities were in the seats,

including playoff-bound Miami Dolphins Channing Crowder, Joey Porter and Ronnie Brown, actor Jamie Foxx, Dolphins great Dan

Marino, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and singer Kelly Rowland. ...

For the first time this season, the Heat had 15 healthy players at

the morning shootaround. Forwards James Jones (wrist) and Dorell

Wright (knee) are working their way back from injuries and aiming

to make season debuts in the coming weeks.