for this game

LeBron the difference as Cavaliers outlast Wizards

Nov 2, 2006 - 4:13 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James is getting rave reviews for his latest commercial, but his star is still brightest on the basketball court.

James scored 26 points, including the go-ahead basket on a dazzling move, to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a season-opening 97-94 victory over the Washington Wizards.

James scored 10 points in the final quarter, including a twisting finger roll with 49 seconds to play to give the Cavaliers a 95-93 lead.

Cleveland survived a last-second 3-pointer by Antawn Jamison to hand Washington its first opening loss in four seasons.

"We made our run, and they made their run, but at the end of the day we got stops and won the game," James said.

While James scored the decisive basket, he got help from a strong supporting cast to subdue the Wizards in a rematch of last year's thrilling Eastern Conference first-round series. The Cavs won that series in six games, with James hitting a game-winning shot in overtime of Game Five.

Larry Hughes, who missed three months of last season with a broken finger, provided a perfect complement to James, leading all scorers with 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting. He added nine rebounds and five assists against his former team.

"I know the type of player (Hughes) was when I went up against him my first two years," James said. "It's a great way for him to start out the night by shooting the ball well."

A fourth-year shooting guard, Hughes was sensational in the middle two quarters, scoring 21 points.

"He can fill up a stat line," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He got nine rebounds, he got assists, he got steals, he scored and shot a high percentage. So, it really was a good night for him. That's what we used to have."

Cleveland also dominated the boards, outrebounding Washington, 50-33. Drew Gooden led the way with 11 rebounds to go with his 14 points and James pulled down 10.

"Drew Gooden has made a living off of us," Jordan said. "He gets offensive rebounds and scores. We talk about LeBron James, but all summer I had nightmares of Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao getting offensive rebounds. Those nightmares were continued."

Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who was magnificent in that series by averaging 34 points, was brutal Wednesday. He was scoreless in the first half and finished with seven points on 2-for-12 shooting, although he did have 11 assists.

"Nobody wants to come out on Opening Day like that, but we did good things out there," Arenas said. "Guys hit shots and I delivered the ball. It's hard to be aggressive when every time you think about driving you get an offensive foul or something."

In his absence, the front line of Caron Butler, Jamison and Etan Thomas picked up the slack with a combined 57 points, including 23 from Butler. The Wizards shot 47 percent (36-of-77).

One of Arenas' few bright moments was a 3-pointer that tied the score at 89-89 with 3:21 left, bringing the Wizards back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

The teams traded baskets until James drove past two defenders and layed in a shot that gave Cleveland the lead for good.

The Cavaliers also shot 47 percent (37-of-78) but almost were done in by miserable 15-of-30 free-throw shooting.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!