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Pavlovic, Hughes spark Cavaliers over Kings without James

Mar 14, 2007 - 4:10 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- With LeBron James sidelined, Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes did their best impressions of their superstar teammate.

Pavlovic and Hughes scored 25 points apiece as the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 124-100 victory over the sliding Sacramento Kings.

Ira Newble started in James' place and scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting for the Cavaliers, who now are just 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for first place in the Central Division and the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons play in Seattle later Wednesday night.

"To see Ira get some minutes tonight and defend one of the toughest offensive players in the league (Ron Artest) the way that he did, that was very exciting to see. Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He spaced the floor and they left him, and he knocked down that (3-pointer). That was great. He had some gimmes at the rim that he missed and a lot of that is due to timing. But I thought overall he played a solid basketball game."

The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, James is averaging 33.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists, while shooting 53 percent from the floor in his last 11 contests. He has reached 26 points in each of those games and is the league's top scorer since February 15.

"He's the best player in this league, let alone on this team, it's a little bit scary (to lose him)," Pavlovic said. "We all have to step up, offensively and defensively, and we have to play a little bit harder."

On Tuesday, James was inactive with back spasms. The superstar forward first felt something in his back Monday night and was bothered by the injury during Tuesday's shootaround. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

"It's day-to-day. (James) wanted to play with the (back) spasms," Brown said. "But, I told him that I thought it would be best for him, and in the long run for the team, to sit this one out."

In his absence, Pavlovic and Hughes combined to shoot 17-of-34 from the field and 6-of-11 from the arc. The duo played with James' style, scoring on a combination of strong drives and deep jumpers.

"We played without him and still were able to get to 100 points," Brown said. "The guys are figuring out how to play within the system without him. It's taken a while trying to implement a system."

Newble made all three of his shots from the arc for Cleveland, which outscored Sacramento, 35-18, in the third quarter to turn a halftime tie into a blowout.

"It felt good. I've been working hard, and it's paying off," Newble said. "It's definitely a good feeling. I finally had some fun. It's been a year and half since I actually played."

Artest scored 19 points for the Kings, who shot 42 percent (36-of-85) and absorbed their third straight loss.

"Playing without James, I thought their guys really played hard," Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought they dug in defensively, especially at the start of the first quarter and at the start of the third quarter. I thought a lot of their role players stepped up and, obviously, they shot the three-ball extremely well."

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