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James' 24 second-half points help Cavs win fifth straight game

Jan 10, 2007 - 7:23 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- LeBron James turned the Sacramento Kings into his personal court jesters.

James scored 24 of his 34 points in the second half as the surging Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for their fifth straight win, a 108-98 triumph over the Kings.

The fourth-year superstar made 14-of-26 shots, including 9-of-14 after intermission. James also handed out seven assists and pulled down four rebounds.

"He (James) just took over," Kings guard Kevin Martin said. "I give him all the credit in the world. Especially the three big threes he hit. That gave them momentum going into the end stretch of the game. Take your hat off to him."

In the fourth quarter, James had the touch from 3-point range, connecting on three consecutive shots to help Cleveland grab an 86-73 with 9:07 remaining.

"That was big. It was very big for us offensively to get into a rhythm," James said. "That helped us be able to get a win."

Martin's shot from the arc capped a 15-4 surge with 1:14 to go, cutting the deficit to 98-94. However, James found a streaking Drew Gooden, who converted a three-point play 20 seconds later.

"When we're defensive-minded like we were in the second half, we're a very tough to beat," James said. "It was a good game for us and a big step for us."

The Cavaliers trailed, 61-48, in the third period before taking control for good. James netted seven of his nine third-quarter points during an aggressive 27-9 burst to close the period.

"It was mental toughness and focus," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "We decided we wanted to get stops and we wanted to help one another defensively. We didn't want to give up anything easy. We started contesting shots, being active on the weak side defensively."

Cleveland outscored Sacramento, 37-17, in the quarter.

Gooden had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17 and nine for the Cavaliers, who won the first of a seven-game West Coast swing.

"I've said all along if you want to dance with us, I truly believe we have the capability of scoring points," Brown said. "But we have to concentrate on getting stops first. That has to be our mantra, especially on the road."

"It's big. I think it's probably my first time on a West Coast trip winning the first game," Gooden said. "That's a big motivation right there."

Mike Bibby scored 26 points and Martin chipped in 23 and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who dropped their third straight game at Arco Arena.

"There's no way we should be 10-10 at home," Martin said. "We've got the starting five that got us back into things last year so we don't have any excuses. We've just got to play together more."

Prior to Tuesday's setback, Sacramento had suffered two overtime defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland here.

Kings center Brad Miller bounced back after leaving early from Saturday's loss with flu-like symptoms. He scored 24 points in 38 minutes.

"Brad is continuing on getting better and is finding his groove now again," Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "We need to start going to him and use his perimeter shooting."

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