for this game

James, Cavaliers slam Celtics, even series

May 13, 2008 - 4:13 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James sealed his performance with a thunderous slam dunk as the Cleveland Cavaliers posted an 88-77 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Four of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Monday.

James had 21 points, a playoff career-high 13 assists and six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who dropped the Celtics to 0-5 on the road in the playoffs and evened the series at 2-2. Game Five is in Boston on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old James survived another sub-par shooting game, hitting on just 7-of-20 from the field. He now is 20-of-78 from the floor in four playoff games against the Celtics.

"I'm not satisfied with my play, but I'm doing other things," James said.

Boston's Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce both struggled in the second half, shooting a combined 4-of-14 from the floor, and Cleveland's bench outscored Boston's reserves, 36-17.

"They had a late 3-point barrage and opened up the game," Pierce said.

After missing six straight shots, James hit a key 3-pointer with 3:17 to go to give the Cavaliers a 79-73 lead.

Daniel Gibson hit a 3-pointer and James followed with a powerful righthanded slam over Garnett at 1:45 to give Cleveland an 84-75 cushion.

"I haven't had a play like that all series," James said. "That just capped it off for me."

Both coaches were impressed.

"He can dunk, especially if you give him a running start at the basket, it's probably going to be a pretty good dunk," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

"Amazing. It's just ... amazing," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Sometimes, I do get giddy."

The Cavaliers outscored Boston, 20-12, in the fourth quarter.

"The fourth quarter killed us," Rivers said.

"When you go on the road, you have to make shots, and we just couldn't do it," Celtics guard Sam Cassell said.

The Cavaliers took their largest lead of the second half at 76-71 with 7:27 left, when James dropped a no-look pass to Joe Smith for a layup.

"(James) has to keep being himself," Brown said. "Stay aggressive and keep impacting the game in other areas."

The Cavaliers ended the third quarter on a 7-2 run and took a 68-65 lead into the fourth. James sank his only basket of the quarter - a 3-pointer - at 4:20.

Wally Szczerbiak and Ray Allen took centerstage early in the third quarter. Matched on each other, Szczerbiak scored nine quick points, while Allen hit two 3-pointers and three free throws.

The second quarter provided plenty of highlights. The partisan crowd booed loudly when James was whistled for a charge on P.J. Brown at 7:03.

Also, James was collared by Pierce on a breakaway attempt at 4:13 and the play carried into the crowd. The King's mother, Gloria, got in the middle of the untangling and was told by her superstar son to sit.

"I told her to sit down in language I shouldn't have used," James said.

With the Cavaliers leading, 41-33, James picked up his third foul at 3:53. Boston proceeded to go on an 8-0 run and tied the game at 41-41 but trailed 45-43 at halftime.

"To end up with seven turnovers, 35 baskets and 24 assists against these guys, in a game like this, is pretty good," Brown said.

Garnett had 13 points and eight rebounds at the halfway point, while James had 12 and five assists.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Garnett finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Pierce scored 13 points for Boston.

"I had a lot of shots that I usually make, but I'm not going to dwell on it," Pierce said.

"We have to play better under stress," Rivers said.

The Celtics had one offensive rebound in the second half.