Cavs clinch home court in East with defeat of 76ers

PHILADELPHIA -- Division title: Check. No. 1 playoff seed: Check. Next goal for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers is securing the NBA's best record.

James had 27 points and 10 assists, Wally Szczerbiak scored a season-high 18 and the Cavaliers beat the struggling Philadelphia 76ers 102-92 Friday night to clinch home-court advantage in the Eastern conference playoffs.

"It means a lot," James said. "To set a goal and accomplish it, we should be proud."

No team has played better at home this season than the Cavs. They're 38-1 at Quicken Loans Arena, with the only loss coming against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 8. Cleveland (64-15) is 1 ½ games ahead of the Lakers for the best record in the league.

Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with 26. The Sixers (40-39) have lost four straight since clinching a playoff berth. They remained one game behind Miami for fifth place in the East.

"We're disappointed because we thought we had a chance to win this game," Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said.

Andre Miller and Lou Williams each scored 17 for Philadelphia, and Mo Williams had 18 for the Cavs.

Playing before the first sellout at the Wachovia Center this season, the Sixers kept it close, but never led after the opening quarter.

James tumbled awkwardly to the floor when Samuel Dalembert fouled him while he was driving to the basket in the third. James went to the bench and got his left leg taped just under his knee before going to the foul line.

Perhaps the fall motivated James. He scored the Cavs' next eight points on a free throw, two jumpers and a 3-pointer. Cleveland led 72-64 at that point.

The Sixers cut it to 76-74 on a jumper by Williams early in the fourth, but Szczerbiak answered with a 3-pointer. Joe Smith followed with a basket to extend the lead to 81-74. Smith then dunked off an outstanding pass from Ben Wallace to make it 85-76. That play brought the Cavs' bench, including cheerleader James, to their feet.

After the Sixers got within 85-80, Szczerbiak hit his fourth 3. Szczerbiak sank a pair of three throws to put the Cavs up 90-80 with 4:43 left. Philadelphia didn't get closer than 90-83 the rest of the way.

"Wally was terrific off the bench on both ends of the floor," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He really impacted the game."

James thrilled fans with a fast-break dunk midway through the first. He passed up another jam, choosing to go with a left-handed layup to give the Cavs a 21-19 lead they never relinquished.

Iguodala provided the biggest highlight of the game, breaking down James and finishing off the drive with an emphatic dunk in the closing seconds of the first half to get the Sixers to 52-46.

"It was nice. It happens. He's a great player," James said. "Wins overtake highlights. I'm about winning games, not making highlights."

The Cavaliers return home to host the defending champion Boston Celtics on Sunday. They'll play at Indiana on Monday and finish the regular season at home against the Sixers on Wednesday. If the Cavs win their final two games in Cleveland, they will match the NBA's best all-time home record set by the 1985-86 Celtics.

"It's a big deal," Szczerbiak said. "You want to go into the playoffs playing on a high note."

The Sixers hope to end their skid when they visit Toronto on Sunday. They'll host Boston on Tuesday and finish off at Cleveland.

Game notes
Wallace played his second game since breaking his right leg on Feb. 26 against Houston. He had one point and five rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. ... The Sixers fell to 2-4 since F Thaddeus Young went down with an ankle injury. ... James didn't get his first rebound until 3:30 remained in the third quarter, and finished with two. ... Szczerbiak's previous best this season was 16 points. He was 4-for-4 from 3-point range.