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James carries Cavaliers over Kings with late flourish

Nov 10, 2007 - 7:52 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- LeBron James normally dominates an entire game. On Friday, it was his prowess in the second half that proved to be the difference for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, including seven points in the final two minutes, as the Cavaliers rode their superstar forward to a 93-91 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Devin Brown had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Kings.

An emerging late-game hero, James' legend grew last May, when he scored 48 points - including his team's last 25 - en route to a dramatic Game Six victory over the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals.

That win catapulted Cleveland to its first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. He showed he was capable of similar - albeit less-heralded - heroics in an early-season contest this time around.

"For the first three quarters, I didn't force anything," James said. "In the fourth, I was able to get some rebounds and force the issue inside more, and it turned into good things. The team did a great job feeding off of me."

With the game tied, 86-86, with 2:08 left, James took matters into his own hands, scoring his team's next seven points to forge a 93-88 lead with 53 seconds left. And his final points of the game were vintage James.

The 6-8, 240-pound bruiser sliced into the lane between the sinewy duo of Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia - powering a shot off the glass, over the tough-minded Brad Miller and adding a free throw to give his team a five-point advantage.

"He's a great player," Martin said. "I'd say he had a tough night and (yet) he had 26 and some key buckets (down the stretch). He's just a great player."

After three Kings' free throws made it a two-point game, Martin had a pair of chances to either tie or take the lead on one extended final possession. But James was ready to thwart those attempts.

Not known for his defense, James forced Martin into a wild 3-pointer that kicked off the side of the rim and out of bounds off Cavaliers guard Damon Jones with 2.3 seconds left.

Martin then fired another closely contested shot from the arc that was well short thanks to James' relentless effort. An unusually small crowd at the notoriously raucous Arco Arena didn't hurt his efforts.

"LeBron's play the last couple possessions on a gifted, talented scorer like Kevin Martin was really good," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "LeBron did about as good as anyone trying to stay in front of him, making him take tough shots, especially when he knew (Martin) wanted to take that shot to try to win or tie the game."

"It's a hard loss to take, especially when I thought it was an obvious foul (late)," Kings swingman John Salmons said. "I thought (Martin) should have got two free throws to try to tie the game up." Martin politely smiled and refused to answer questions about the non-call in the waning seconds.

After 354 consecutive sellouts, the Kings have come up short their first two home games of the new season, with another non-sellout expected Saturday against Minnesota.

Martin scored 32 points and Garcia and Salmons added 18 apiece for the Kings.

"I thought Devin Brown's gritty play was terrific," Brown added. "He played the one, the two, the three and the the four for us tonight. He's not a pretty player but he's definitely very smart."

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