for this game

Bulls overcome another James' scoring explosion

Mar 7, 2008 - 5:08 AM By Rory Spears PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHICAGO (Ticker) - Whether it's the "Big Apple" or the "Windy City", it doesn't seem to matter - LeBron James can't miss. It's usually more of a question as to whether his supporting cast shows up.

One night after scoring 50 points against the New York Knicks, James poured in 39 more points - but this time in defeat - as the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Chicago Bulls, 107-96, on Thursday.

James, who recorded his fifth career 50-point game on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, was on pace to do it again after scoring 26 in the first half. However, he alone could not overcome a poor shooting effort from the rest of his team, which shot 35 percent (20-for-57) for the contest.

"Chicago became a little more aggressive defensively in the second half," James said. "Then I missed some shots that I know I normally make."

A third-quarter collision with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich didn't help James' ailing elbow, which was just starting to feel better.

"I re-aggravated my elbow," James said. "I had been wearing a sleeve for the last few weeks. I had started feeling better the last few games, so I took it off. My elbow caught his face, so that did hurt a bit."

But Chicago held the NBA's leading scorer to 13 second-half points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field before he was replaced in the lineup with just over four minutes remaining. The Bulls were comfortably ahead by 20 at that point.

"We really found our defense in the second half," Bulls coach Jim Boylan said. "I was concerned the way LeBron came out; we did make adjustments against him at halftime. We wanted him to see three guys (on him) if he took the ball in the paint."

Luol Deng and Ben Gordon scored 23 points apiece for the Bulls, who won back-to-back games for the first time since December 28-30. Rookie Joakim Noah had 13 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

"I just wanted to help my team win anyway I could," Noah said. "I am not going be a big help shooting (3-pointers), so I hit the boards."

With Cleveland maintaining a 53-49 lead early in the third quarter, Chicago countered with a 17-0 run. Larry Hughes scored seven points during the run against his former team.

The Bulls outscored the Cavaliers, 34-16, in the pivotal quarter.

"Sometimes, the difference between two halves is something you can't figure out," Boylan said. "Our defense did allow us to start running more in the second half, which tends to lead to some easy baskets in transition."

Cleveland cut the lead to eight points midway through the fourth quarter, but Andres Nocioni and Gordon scored five points apiece during a 14-2 run to put the game out of reach.

"If we can continue to get wins, we can stay in the playoff race," Hinrich said. "We are starting to figure out our strengths and weaknesses; we are gaining some momentum."

Devin Brown had 15 points for the Cavaliers, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.

"I am concerned with how we have played the last two games," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "If we are going to make a run in the playoffs, we can't keep playing games where we give up 105-plus points every night. We had nothing on the defensive end tonight."

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