for this game

'King James' pours in 45 as Cavaliers down Timberwolves

Nov 22, 2007 - 6:01 AM Tom Coyer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- In the Cleveland Cavaliers' lone trip to the "Great North" this season, LeBron James showed the crowd why he is one of the top players in the NBA.

James finished the night with 45 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Cavaliers to a 97-86 victory over the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Drew Gooden added 17 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas pulled down 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which won for just the second time in its last five games.

"They were all great shots, everything was on balance and he stepped into everything with confidence," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said of James. "Anytime that we are able to have a close ballgame at the end, I know that he's ready to turn it on.

"I don't even worry or try to read him at all, he knows when he needs to step up and do his thing and he did it tonight."

After being up 46-42 at halftime, the Cavaliers maintained control in the third with second-year guard Daniel Gibson pouring in seven of his 11 points during the period to push the lead to 72-64.

Minnesota made a push in the final quarter, trimming the deficit to 83-79 on a pair of free throws by Al Jefferson with 3:18 remaining.

"It was a winnable game for us," Jefferson said. "We were down six, we had a chance, and LeBron came down and hit tow big threes."

But James took over from there, scoring 10 straight points, including a pair of deep 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. He then stole the in-bounds pass and layed the ball in, to push the lead back to 91-79 with 1:43 to play.

"That pretty much put the nail in the coffin," James said. "I felt comfortable, I got a few good looks at threes and they went down. I played the passing lane and got a good steal, too. That pretty much did it for them."

Cleveland held a significant free-throw advantage in the contest, making its way to the line 33 times to 13 by Minnesota.

Jefferson collected 30 points and eight rebounds and Antoine Walker and Gerald Green added 13 points apiece off the bench for the Timberwolves (1-8), who continued their worst start in franchise history.

"(Jefferson) has been a tough cover for us before," Brown said. "He's never played the extended minutes against us like he did tonight. He is a remarkable talent. He's strong and quick, and with him being strong and quick the way he can shoot that jump hook, there is no one that can touch him."

Coach Randy Wittman was frustrated with his team's lack of fight.

"We have guys that, when we get punched in the mouth, we quit. We stop playing instead of throwing something back," Wittman said. "Whether it hits or doesn't hit, we have to throw something back."

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