for this game

Cavaliers take commanding 3-0 lead on Wizards

Apr 29, 2007 - 2:41 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Washington Wizards finally ran out of comebacks, and now it will take a historic one to continue their season.

LeBron James scored 30 points to help the Cleveland Cavaliers hold off the Wizards, 98-92, and take a commanding three-games-to-none lead in their first-round series.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added a season high-tying 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting for the Cavaliers, who squandered a 17-point halftime lead before clamping down on shorthanded Washington in the final minutes.

Game Four is here Monday night, where the Wizards will try to stay alive. In NBA history, 79 teams have held 3-0 leads and none have lost the series.

"We knew they were going to make a run on their home court, especially after what happened in the first half," James said. "We gave up a lot of open shots to start the third (quarter), which we did not do in the first half. We relaxed a little bit and you cannot do that - especially on someone else's court."

Antawn Jamison was immense, pouring in 38 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for Washington, which is still without injured All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.

Antonio Daniels added 20 points and 13 assists, including a fadeaway jumper that pulled Washington into an 81-81 tie with 9:06 to play.

At that point, fatigue seemed to catch up with the Wizards, who went 4 1/2 minutes before scoring again.

"Even though they went on a big run, we never let them take the lead," James said. "That really helped our rhythm. They finally tied the game and then we made three straight buckets and three straight stops."

Ilgauskas, turning in his highest offensive output since scoring 24 in a loss at Seattle on January 16, hit back-to-back baseline jumpers and Drew Gooden buried two free throws for an 87-81 cushion.

"We were frustrated because that's something we talked about at halftime: not giving up that lead," Gooden said. "But we've been there before and we got it done."

A 3-pointer by Jarvis Hayes got the Wizards within 89-86 with just under four minutes left, but Gooden answered with a dunk and Ilgauskas buried a jumper from the free-throw line to extend the margin to 93-86 with 2:45 to play.

"The whole series I've been getting good looks and I've been able to capitalize," Ilgauskas said. "For a big guy, it's easier to play the game when you get a couple dunks, a couple layups and a couple tip-ins. It opens up your jump shot and the hoop seems a lot bigger next time you shoot."

Washington again pulled within three points on one free throw by Etan Thomas, but Sasha Pavlovic buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to make it 96-90 with 25 seconds to play.

"I think it was big because I didn't have a good shooting game tonight," Pavlovic said. "I missed all wide-open shots, and I'm glad my teammates believed in me and they still kept passing me the ball when I was wide open. I had to make that shot."

Seemingly buried at halftime and facing a 61-44 deficit, the Wizards roared back behind Jamison, who scored 12 points in a 21-4 run that tied it at 65-65 with 5:50 to play. Hayes hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-0 spurt that forged the tie.

"We played hard, but we just could not get the win," Hayes said. "It was very disappointing, but we can take some good things out of this game into the game on Monday."

The Cavaliers answered with a 6-0 surge and James hit back-to-back baskets to restore the lead to 77-70, but Jamison buried a 3-pointer and Antonio Daniels added two free throws to pull the Wizards within 77-75 at the end of three.

Jamison scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the quarter, giving him 33 heading into the final 12 minutes.

"We should be giving a better effort than what was given in the first half," Jamison said. "We could not afford to let opportunities get away in the second half, and I put it on myself to play with energy and hopefully inspire my teammates."

"It's tough to come back from being down 17 without being fatigued and without having some things go wrong," Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes said. "You have to have everything go right to come back from being down 17."

Gooden had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which manhandled Washington on the boards, finishing with a 48-33 edge on the glass.

The Cavaliers had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, which they ended with back-to-back 3-pointers from James and six points from Pavlovic in the final minute for a 61-44 lead at the intermission.

The Wizards suffered two more injuries in the fourth quarter. DeShawn Stevenson "tweaked" his groin and Daniels rolled his ankle.


    Apr 28 8:15 PM
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