for this game

James, Cavaliers force Game Seven vs. Celtics

May 17, 2008 - 4:50 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James closed out two decisive runs and the Cleveland Cavaliers kept the Boston Celtics winless in road playoff games with a 74-69 win in Game Six of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

James had 32 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as the Cavaliers forced a deciding Game Seven in Boston on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

After struggling from the floor over the first four games (20-of-78), The King has put together back-to-back 30-point games. James scored 19 of his 32 points in the second half.

"Closing (out) the quarters was the biggest thing we did tonight," James said. "That's the reason we got the win."

Wally Szczerbiak, riding a 1-of-10 shooting performance, buried a 3-pointer to put Cleveland on top, 72-63, with 2:08 left, but the Celtics made one last push.

Boston scored six straight points to get within three before Joe Smith sealed the win by sinking two free throws with 14 seconds to play.

"When they have shooters out there like Ray Allen, Eddie House and Paul Pierce, guys who can knock down a 3-pointer at any time, you want to obviously make it a two-possession game," Smith said.

Boston's 69 points are an all-time low for a Cleveland playoff opponent.

"That was a grind-it-out basketball game," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said.

Cleveland compensated for 33 percent field-goal shooting by outscoring Boston, 21-11, at the foul line and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds to Boston's seven.

"Before the series we said the two things we can't give up are: One, obviously offensive rebounds; and two, we can't allow them to live on the foul line. And we did both," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

Rivers was disappointed with the officiating.

"I thought we drove the ball as hard as they did," he said. "Somehow they ended up on the line and we didn't."

The Celtics, who fell to 0-6 on the road in the playoffs, never have lost a playoff series when leading 3-2, holding a 28-0 record in such instances.

"There's nothing easy about the playoffs," Boston All-Star Kevin Garnett said. "The game is what it is and the referees are going to make their calls."

Garnett finished with 25 points and eight rebounds for Boston. Pierce had 16 points and Allen, who is shooting 19-of-55 for the series, had another sub-par game with nine points.

"I'm shooting the ball very sporadically," Allen said. "I've not really been able to get in a rhythm."

Delonte West had 10 points and Szczerbiak added nine for Cleveland. Smith had nine points and five rebounds while Zydrunas Ilgauskas added seven points and 10.

James hit two mid-range jumpers at the start of the fourth quarter to close a 10-0 run and give Cleveland a 63-50 lead.

Boston fought back to within 65-60, but James hit back-to-back buckets to restore a nine-point edge at 69-60 with 4:07 left.

Cleveland used a 24-2 run from late in the second quarter overlapping into the third quarter as Boston missed 16 consecutive shots from the floor.

James scored the first seven points of the second half to give the Cavaliers a 49-33 lead at 10:22.

Trailing, 51-35, Boston launched a 13-0 run to pull within 51-48 at 3:51 of the third. Garnett and Pierce scored six points apiece in the spurt.

The Cavaliers endured a miserable first 18 minutes and closed the first half on a 17-2 run to take a 42-33 lead at the break on West's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"As bad as we've looked offensively at times, we looked great on the defensive end," James said.

The whistles favored Cleveland in the second quarter. James sank 6-of-8 free throws and Szczerbiak dropped 4-of-4 as the Cavaliers hit on 12-of-15 at the stripe compared to 2-of-2 for Boston.

Cleveland outrebounded the Celtics, 26-18, in the first half.