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James' fast start helps Cavaliers cruise

Dec 10, 2006 - 3:32 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James ran a layup drill on the Indiana Pacers.

James made his first six shots and scored 24 of his 27 points in three quarters as the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to a 107-75 rout of the Pacers.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Damon Jones each scored 15 points and Donyell Marshall collected 17 rebounds and four blocks - both season highs - for the Cavaliers, who owned a 56-32 advantage in paint points.

The Cavaliers took full advantage of the absence of Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, who is second in the NBA in blocks but sat out with a hamstring injury. Indiana also played the second half without swingman Stephen Jackson, who was banished to the locker room by coach Rick Carlisle.

"The biggest difference before when we played them was that we had Jermaine down there blocking shots," Pacers forward Al Harrington said. "I think the coach (Mike Brown) said they (Pacers) don't have any shot-blockers in there, so go to the hole and everybody did that."

James' first five baskets in the opening period were layups as Cleveland took a 31-16 lead. The 6-8 swingman sandwiched a 3-pointer - only his second jump shot of the half - between a pair of dunks and layups in the second quarter.

"When we get out and run and get those easy baskets, it really opens up the rest of the offense for everybody," Brown said. "LeBron set the tone early."

James was 10-of-11 from the floor as the Cavaliers owned a 56-42 cushion at the break. He was quiet in the third quarter, when his teammates stepped forward and built the lead to 84-55.

"We did a great job of jumping on a team and not letting up," James said.

Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden suffered a groin injury during warmups and did not play. Anderson Varejao started in his place and totaled 13 points and nine rebounds.

Larry Hughes had eight points and four assists in 24 minutes off the bench for Cleveland. He had been sidelined since November 15 with a right ankle injury.

"I didn't really lose any rhythm since I've been out," said Hughes, who missed the previous 10 games. "I felt pretty good on that end. It's just a matter of getting my foot stronger to where I can just go out and play."

Darrell Armstrong had 13 points and four steals and Danny Granger scored 12 points for the Pacers, who had their two-game winning streak stopped.

With 2:46 left before halftime, Jackson was replaced by Armstrong and was not happy, trading words with Carlisle.

"I substituted for him (Jackson) and he came to the bench and an exchange ensued that I felt was inappropriate, detrimental to the team," Carlisle said. "So I made a decision to remove him from the bench."

Notorious for his role in the riot at The Palace of Auburn Hills two years ago, Jackson was arrested for allegedly firing a gun outside an Indianapolis strip club in October. He had no comment on his latest dust-up.

"As of right now, this is a one-game situation," Carlisle said. "I expect that this is an incident that is isolated and will be dealt with as such."

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