for this game

James' triple-double leads Cavs past Blazers

Mar 11, 2008 - 3:41 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James had a workman-like triple-double as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their sixth straight home game, 88-80, over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

James had 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds - his seventh triple-double - for the Cavaliers (37-27), who moved to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season.

The final piece of the puzzle for "The King" - his 10th assist - came on a perfect bounce pass to Anderson Varejao for a layup and an 83-77 Cleveland lead with 1:17 to play.

"I could have played better, but I did a good job at finding other ways to control the game in the fourth quarter," James said. "It's going to be scary to see how good we can be when everybody gets (healthy)."

Wally Szczerbiak added a late jumper to seal the outcome, and rejuventated forward Joe Smith came off the bench for 18 points and five rebounds for the Cavaliers.

"(James) is starting to get a feel for his new teammates," Szczerbiak said. "How good he is ... it's pretty special being on his team and living it day in and day out and seeing it day in and day out. I'm just happy to be his teammate."

Cleveland hunkered down and played solid defense after the first quarter and forced Portland into a critical 24-second violation, while protecting an 81-77 lead with 1:36 to play.

"Devin Brown did a solid job on Brandon Roy and LeBron made a couple of phenomenal defensive plays down the stretch," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

The Trail Blazers pounded the Cavaliers for 15 offensive rebounds, but Cleveland offset that margin with one turnover in the second half.

The Cavaliers used a 7-2 run at the end of the third quarter to pull even at 62-62 heading to the fourth.

Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers missed nine consecutive shots as the Cavaliers built a 73-69 lead - sinking six consecutive free throws.

"Their defense tightened up (in the second half) and offensively we couldn't score," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought their defense took us out of what we wanted to run."

LaMarcus Aldridge converted a three-point play over Smith at 6:27 to bring Portland within 73-72.

Cleveland center Ben Wallace had a miserable first half, missing two layups, one dunk and both free-throw attempts. He was punished on the defensive end as well by Aldridge, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half and finished with 10 rebounds.

"It's frustrating, but we've got to learn that when teams turn it up, that we have to turn it up too," Aldridge said. "They just started doing different schemes to make sure I didn't get the ball."

Wallace sat out the second half with back spasms.

Roy added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists for Portland.

"(Cleveland) played like a playoff team tonight," Roy said. "We tried to do some things to take the ball out of LeBron's hands, but he did a good job of getting it to his teammates and they made (some plays)."