for this game

Durant, Wilcox help Sonics edge James-less Cavs

Feb 1, 2008 - 7:11 AM By Paul Lowenberg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers were already undermanned - and not having LeBron James didn't help their case.

Rookie Kevin Durant scored 24 points and Chris Wilcox added 18 and 13 rebounds as the Seattle SuperSonics held on for a 101-95 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night.

The win was the second in a row for the Sonics, who snapped a club record 14-game losing streak Tuesday. It was the first winning streak for Seattle since December 12-14.

James was forced to sit out after spraining his right ankle in the second quarter of Wednesday's win at Portland. The 6-8 All-Star is leading the league in scoring at 30.1 points per game.

James will be re-evaluated on Friday, but it is not immediately known how long he might be sidelined.

Cleveland coach Mike Brown refused to use James' injury as a reason for the loss. "No matter if Lebron is playing or not, the one thing you need to do is compete," Brown said. "I know we didn't do that. They got 13 fast break points in the first half and we don't change a thing. They just beat us down the floor." But Cavs swingman Larry Hughes thought James' absence did pose some problems. "It's definitely an adjustment," Hughes said. "We basically run everything through him. So, when he's not there it takes us awhile to figure out where we are most effective."

Wilcox got the Sonics off and running, scoring Seattle's first 10 points as it jumped out early en route to a 40-24 lead at the end of the first period. Durant poured in 12 points to help the Sonics to their highest scoring quarter of the season.

"We talked before the game that what often happens in this league is when a key player is out, the other team relaxes and his team takes it to another level," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said.

"I have no clue where our mindset was for us to come out and give up 40 points in the first quarter," Brown said. "It's uncharacteristic of us and I'm disappointed in that. I can live with the loss, but I'm just flat out disappointed with the mental focus and effort that we brought to (Thursday's) game."

Seattle built a comfortable 62-42 lead at intermission after shooting a blistering 62 percent (28-of-46) from the floor while holding the Cavs to just 34 percent.

Hughes opened the third by scoring 10 straight points, including two 3-pointer, as the Cavs went on a 12-6 run to cut the lead to 68-54 with 8:32 left.

Cleveland continued to make things interesting in the fourth when Zydrunas Ilgauskas hit a pair of free throws to slice the deficit to 91-88 with 2:50 remaining.

But Durant, who was selected No. 2 overall in June's draft, netted six of Seattle's next eight points to keep the game at bay in the waning seconds.

"The next time we have a 20-point lead we'll close it out better," Carlesimo said. "It's relaxing a bit to have a big lead, it's not staying aggressive. It's settling for some bad shots, and we had some bad turnovers."

"I wanted to be aggressive and the guys did a great job of setting screens and getting open and we got some easy layups," Durant said. "We made the game harder than it had to be but we made the plays down the stretch and came out with the win."

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