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James, Cavaliers spoil Boozer's return in win over Jazz

Mar 18, 2007 - 4:07 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Superstar LeBron James spoiled former teammate Carlos Boozer's return to Quicken Loans Arena.

James collected 24 points, a season-high 17 rebounds and nine assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their season-best winning streak to eight games with an 82-73 victory over Boozer and the Utah Jazz.

Former Jazz Sasha Pavlovic scored 21 points for the Cavaliers (41-25), who moved just two games behind surging Detroit (42-22) for first place in the Central Division and the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We need to play games like that against playoff teams," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We need to figure out how to win when the shots aren't going on because that's what happens a lot in the playoffs."

An All-Star forward, Boozer spent two successful seasons in Cleveland before the Cavaliers decided not to exercise his third-year option, thinking he would sign a six-year contract as a restricted free agent after the 2003-04 season.

However, Boozer decided to sign with the Jazz and - after a pair of injury-plagued seasons - has cemented himself as one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He heard some boos in his first game back in Cleveland but collected 19 points and 14 rebounds.

"It wasn't even that bad," Boozer said. "They had a lot of creative signs, and I saw a couple of them. The chants were OK. They could have been more creative on the chants. Most of the game, I used it as fuel. I was pumped the whole game. They were a great crowd, great fans, and they were doing what they could. It was a great atmosphere."

James felt the electricity in the building.

"(The crowd was) what I expected. They were great tonight," James said. "I wish they could be like that every night. They do a good job. It was awesome to see the electricity in here. They got on (Boozer) when he missed those two free throws late in the game."

James continued his stellar play. He overcame 8-of-21 shooting - including 0-of-6 from the arc - with a remarkable floor game.

Drew Gooden, who has replaced Boozer at power forward, collected 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.

"(Boozer leaving) was three seasons ago, but it was his first time coming here, so I think the fans were excited to see Boozer for the first time," Gooden said. "But as me being a player and me knowing Boozer, that happened a long time ago.

"If Boozer didn't do what he did, I feel like I wouldn't be here. I think we should let bygones be bygones. We'll see what happens in the end."

Mehmet Okur had 19 points and eight rebounds for Utah, which shot just 35 percent (29-of-83) to absorb its fourth loss in a row.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan did not think the hoopla surrounding the game had any effect.

"I didn't think (Boozer) was affected in my estimation," Sloan said. "In fact, it looked like he kind of liked it. At least, they didn't boo me tonight, and they got him. That's what being a professional athlete is all about. You go about your business."

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