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James' huge fourth lifts Cavaliers over Blazers

Jan 31, 2008 - 6:53 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- "King James" proved once again that the fourth quarter is his domain.

LeBron James scored 17 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning layup with three-tenths of a second remaining, to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 84-83 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

James added 14 rebounds and four assists and shot 3-of-6 from the arc for the Cavaliers, who have won five straight games on the road for the first time since 1998.

"We haven't have success on the road like this in a long time," James said. "We understand how to handle it. The coaching staff does a great of preparing us to go out every night. We have the No. 1 (comebacks in the league) in the fourth quarter for a reason. We know the game is not over until there are zeros on the clock."

With the Blazers holding an 81-70 edge with 4:26 to play after LaMarcus Aldridge nailed a jumper, Cleveland put together a run with James at the forefront.

"I just wanted to take every possession like it was our last and be aggressive," James said. "My teammates did a good job at feeding off of me. I don't know when the turning point happened, but we were able to ride the wave and get a win."

Drawing inspiration from a Portland fan that had a few things to say near Cleveland's basket, James swished his first 3-pointer of the game through to cut the deficit to 81-73.

"They kept going behind the pick-and-roll," James said. "I was able to hit a three. I just wanted to be aggressive."

Drew Gooden added a jumper before James nailed his second shot from the arc to cut it to 81-78 with 2:58 remaining.

After Portland failed to score again, Cleveland fed the ball to James again off a screen, and he rose up and tied the contest at 81-81 with his third 3-pointer in a two-minute span.

"We played the game not to lose in the last few minutes while they played more aggressively to win," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Our job was to keep the pressure on and we didn't do it.

"In recent games down the stretch, we've come down and got some stops. But tonight even though we did a pretty good job early in defending LeBron, he made the clutch threes and the winning drive to the basket just like great players do."

Travis Outlaw put the Blazers back on top with a jumper and Gooden made it 83-82 when he split a pair of free throws with 1:39 to play.

When Brandon Roy missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left, the Cavaliers called a timeout to set up James' final drive. The superstar swingman drove hard down the right side of the lane and ducked under the basket, laying it up on the left side of the rim to clinch the win.

"Obviously LeBron was terrific," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He put us on his back tonight. We couldn't make a basket to save our lives tonight. But he put us on his back. He did what superstars do and he did was he's capable of doing. That was fun to watch and that was fun to be a part of."

"On that winning play, our first job was to keep LeBron in front of Brandon," McMillan said. "But when he drove by, the second big mistake was we should have come over and given help and made it difficult for him to drive to the basket. That didn't happen."

The fourth quarter rally and back-and-forth with the courtside fan was reminiscent of a game earlier this season in Toronto when a fan unwisely got on the nerves of James, leading to a Cavaliers comeback win.

"That's the second time that's happened," James said. "That happened once in Toronto. It's the second time the home team has lost because of a fan. It's fun. I try to go out and entertain and play the game the right way. I have fun with the fans."

One of the hottest teams in the NBA of late, the Cavaliers improved to 11-2 in January after going 5-11 from November 28 through the end of December.

Roy and Aldridge led Portland with 16 points apiece, but neither could manage more than two points in the final quarter, as they watched the 11-point lead disappear.

"I thought LeBron did a nice job on Brandon," McMillan said. "He stepped up when he had to. What I told the players tonight after the game is, 'We gave up one.' Tonight we had an opportunity to put the game away, but we didn't make baskets down the stretch."

James tweaked his ankle late in the first half and came out of the locker room to start the third quarter heavily taped. He also jammed a finger in the fourth when he slammed into Blazers guard Sergio Rodriguez after pulling down a rebound.

But the injuries did not seem to make any difference as the clock was winding down.

"It's been better," James said of his body. "I know I'm going to be sore (in the morning), but hopefully it doesn't keep me out (Thursday against the Seattle SuperSonics) - hopefully."