for this game

James, Gibson help Cavaliers hold off Knicks

Nov 3, 2007 - 5:06 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Superstar LeBron James came out with something to prove after a poor season debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He used help from teammate Daniel Gibson to do just that.

James collected 45 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Cavaliers used a stellar fourth quarter en route to a 110-106 victory over the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night.

Gibson scored a regular-season career-high 24 points, including a barrage of 3-pointers in the final period, as Cleveland outscored New York, 35-26, to pick up its first win since Game Six of the Eastern Conference finals.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown credited his squad's defensive intensity for the win.

"In the second half, we defended," Brown said. "The Knicks shot 40.4 percent in the second half. We made them take more contested jump shots."

According to Gibson, it was a big win for Cleveland - despite it being early in the season.

"Our team was capable of responding," the second-year guard said. "We felt it was big to get this win (getting ready to on the road for six games)."

James, who led the Cavaliers to their first Finals appearance last season, scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting and committed five turnovers in a 92-74 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

It was different story just two days later as James showed off his full offensive repertoire, notching the highest point total by a Cavalier against the Knicks in franchise history.

"We got beat by a great performance tonight," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "(James) wasn't going to let his team lose."

He surpassed former Cleveland star World B. Free, who netted 39 against New York on April 9, 1984. However, the All-Star forward talked about his team's performance.

"We had to show more energy than we did on Wednesday," James said. "That was the main thing."

Trailing, 86-83, with seven minutes left, the Cavaliers went on a 20-10 run to take control of the game at 103-96 with just under two minutes remaining. James scored eight points and Gibson nailed four shots from the arc during the spurt.

"It's not like we haven't seen that before," said James, who was referring to Gibson's prowess from the arc - a skill he showed off in last season's run to the NBA Finals. "Once I get in the lane, it opens up for shots like (Gibson) had."

Cleveland spoiled New York's season opener after a tumultuous offseason.

It was an embarrassing time for the Knicks and Thomas, who spent the summer fending off a sexual harrassment lawsuit from former team employee Anucha Browne Sanders.

In addition, Thomas is feeling pressure to improve a downtrodden New York club, which has endured six straight losing seasons, including a 33-49 finish last campaign. The once-proud franchise last made the playoffs in 2003-04.

But Thomas, who also serves as the team's general manager, acquired high-scoring forward Zach Randolph in the offseason to complement franchise centerpiece Eddy Curry in the low post.

It was the coach's desperate attempt at improving the Knicks with his job - and eroding reputation - on the line. However, many questioned how the 6-9 Randolph and 6-11 Curry would operate together on the crowded low block.

The duo worked well together on Friday as Randolph collected 25 points and 14 rebounds and Curry added 18 and seven for the Knicks.

"(James) shot more free throws than our whole team," said Randolph, who was close as New York took 23 free throws and James 22. "They got some offensive rebounds at the end that hurt us."

Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, who had just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting, admitted that it takes some time to get used to playing with new teammates.

"I thought we were going to win it," he said. "But it's a long season. It's the first time we played with Zach."

In a back-and-forth contest, New York took its largest lead with 3:04 left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Nate Robinson to make it 78-69, but could not execute in the fourth.

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