for this game

James takes over late, lifts Cavs in Game One

Apr 19, 2008 - 9:34 PM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Refusing to engage in any trash talk with the Washington Wizards before the series began, LeBron James let his performance speak for itself on Saturday.

James scored 32 points, including clutch baskets down the stretch, as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Wizards, 93-86, in Game One of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 22 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland, which hosts Game Two on Monday.

"I thought it was a tough, physical, hard-fought game," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "I thought our guys did a nice job keeping their poise and composure throughout the game. One thing we talked about is we've got to handle adversity. We can't get emotionally caught up in anything. We have to stay poised, we have to stay focused."

In the days leading up to the game, Washington guard DeShawn Stevenson called James "overrated" and Gilbert Arenas said that Washington "wanted Cleveland in the first round."

But in an intense Game One, which featured a number of momentum swings, it was James who ended up having the final word.

Cleveland's superstar tied the game at 84-84 with a pair of free throws with 2:38 remaining, then scored on drive to the basket to give the Cavaliers a two-point edge with 1:37 to play.

"I just wanted to be aggressive," James said. "Coach called a good play. (Ilgauskas) set a good screen for me so I was able to come off of a curl and get to the lane. It was a difficult shot. ... I was still able to get the ball off the glass."

After Washington failed to score, James made a running floater across the lane, extending Cleveland's lead to 88-84 with 55 seconds to play.

The Wizards did not get any closer the rest of the way, making just 4-of-20 field goals in the fourth quarter. Washington went without a point for over 4 1/2 minutes late in the final period until Caron Butler scored the last basket of the game with just under four seconds remaining.

"This is the sort of game that we anticipated," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "I thought that we managed the game the way we wanted and executed our game plan we had talked about. I think that coming down the stretch in the mid-fourth to late fourth we didn't keep our scoring pace."

After missing his first four shots, James finished 12-of-19 from the floor and added six rebounds and four assists.

"My play speaks louder than me going out there and pushing somebody or talking trash," James said. "That's what it's about. We're not the type of team that talks but we're not going to back down either. Our game did the talking tonight, and that's what it should be about."

Cleveland held a five-point lead late in the first quarter, but Washington answered with an 18-2 run - keyed by four 3-pointers from Arenas - to take a 30-19 bulge with 10:28 left in the second.

The Cavaliers chipped away and eventually tied the game at 46-46 at the break after Wally Szczerbiak made a technical free throw, resulting from a heated exchange involving James and Wizards center Brendan Haywood.

Haywood was whistled for an offensive foul due to an illegal screen on James in the waning seconds of the first half near midcourt.

James took exception to being knocked down and started jawing back at Haywood as players from both teams came together in front of the scorer's table at center court. No punches were thrown as Haywood, James and Antawn Jamison all received technical fouls.

"I felt I set a good screen on LeBron, and they called a charge on it," Haywood said. "I was trying to talk to (official Bob Delaney) about the play and I guess I was over top of him, and he got a little razzle-dazzled."

The Cavaliers took a five-point lead midway through the third quarter, but Jamison scored seven points during an 11-0 run that gave the Wizards a 67-61 advantage with 2:45 left in the quarter.

Washington took a four-point lead into the fourth, but Cleveland surged ahead, 82-77, with just under six minutes remaining.

The Wizards then answered with seven straight points - four from Arenas - to take a two-point edge with 4:38 left.

"The postseason is like a roller coaster," James said. "With seven minutes to go, we were up by five. Two minutes later, we were down by four. So, you can never count yourself to win until the zeros are on the clock."

Arenas scored 24 points off the bench and Jamison had 23 and 19 rebounds to lead the Wizards, who have lost to the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

The 27 minutes for Arenas, who shot 2-of-6 in the fourth quarter, were the most he's played since coming back from knee surgery on April 2.

"They're trying to manage my timing, and it's kind of difficult to get my rhythm," Arenas said. "Hopefully, later in the series (I can play more minutes), but right now, no. I can't believe that I got 27 in the minutes I played. They let me go out there and play, but I was tired and didn't have my legs under me. Still, I should have made those shots."