for this game

Hughes, Cavaliers remain in hunt for second seed

Apr 18, 2007 - 3:48 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Larry Hughes and the Cleveland Cavaliers played like they wanted to avoid the defending champions.

Hughes scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and superstar LeBron James added 18 as the Cavaliers won their third straight game, a 98-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas collected 14 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland (49-32), which is battling idle Chicago (49-32) for the second seed in the East. The teams hold the same record but the Bulls own the tiebreaker.

"We can't control (the seeding)," Hughes said. "We have to rely on another team. With that said, we've won a fair amount of games and we can be proud of that and face whoever we have to face."

The Cavaliers mow must emerge victorious in their final game vs. Milwaukee on Wednesday and hope Chicago loses its finale at New Jersey to earn the No. 2 seed. If that does not happen, then Cleveland would end up as the fifth seed and play Miami in the first round. The Cavaliers would have home-court advantage in that series.

"We want to win as many game as we can," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "If we can't be in the top spot, we want to be in the second spot. Tonight was a big game for us.

"We do want to give ourselves an opportunity to get the No. 2 spot. Milwaukee is not going to lay down for us. It's going to be a tough game at home, and we have to go out with the right mind frame and focus in order to get a win."

James, who entered the contest averaging 32.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the two games against the 76ers this season, was 7-of-15 from the field. But the superstar forward was not the offensive star.

Hughes continued his stellar play entering the postseason. He is averaging 16.8 points and 4.5 assists in his last nine games and shot 9-of-19 and dished out five assists on Tuesday.

"I have to step up," Hughes said. "I have that in me whenever I'm called upon to make plays on either side of the ball, and I'm ready to do it."

James pointed to the team's unselfish play as a reason for its success. The Cavaliers dished out 29 assists.

"What we have been doing the last few games is sharing the ball and getting open looks," James said. "There has been no pressure knocking down shots because we are passing up good looks for great looks. It was a treat again tonight, and we got another road win."

Willie Green scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting and Joe Smith added 17 for the 76ers, who shot 46 percent (32-of-70) from the field.

"Even though we may be out of the playoff race, we still wanted to go out there and play the right way and do things to win the game," Smith said. "I think that for the most part we did that. We made a run and we never got over the hump."

After trading franchise centerpiece Allen Iverson earlier in the campaign, the Sixers did not fold as expected and made a late run at the postseason.

"I'm happy with the second half of the season," Green said. "The guys gave it their all, we played together and we really gave it a run where nobody thought we could. We were still in the thick of the playoff run until the end."

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