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LeBron, Cavaliers make Knicks jealous

Dec 4, 2008 - 4:11 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- With questions swirling about his future, LeBron James stayed in the present and the Cleveland Cavaliers clobbered the decimated New York Knicks, 118-82, on Wednesday for their sixth straight win.

Off to their best start in franchise history at 15-3, the Cavaliers are 10-0 at home and have the third-best record in the NBA, winning 14 of their last 15 games.

James - continuing to fend off speculation of his departure as a free agent in two years - was one of five Cavaliers in double figures with 21 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 28 minutes. James did not see action in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks are presumed to be one of the many teams interested in courting James when he can opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers in 2010.

New York, having asked Stephon Marbury to stay away, dropped both ends of a back-to-back, falling at home on Tuesday to Portland, 104-97. The Knicks slipped to 2-6 on the road.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 28 in the first half and by 42 at one point in the second.

"It's at an all-time high. The chemistry is great right now, but we don't want to get too high on ourselves," James said. "It's early. We want to stay humble."

The Cavs ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run and led 31-20 after 12 minutes. Al Harrington scored 13 for the Knicks in the opening quarter.

Cleveland's Mo Williams had a three-point play to start the second quarter and the Cavs led 34-20. The Knicks finally ended their drought when David Lee scored at 10:42 to make it 34-22.

"That's our identity; we're a defensive team," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We have intelligent basketball players that know how to play offense the right way. They're very unselfish, and the chemistry is pretty good offensively. That offense feeds off our defense."

The Cavaliers continued to dominate the Knicks in the second quarter, when Daniel Gibson converted a three-point play at 6:05 to give the Cavaliers a 17-point lead. Gibson stole the ball and added another free throw for a 47-29 lead.

"When we get a team down, we don't want to allow them to get back in the game," James said.

At 2:25, Quentin Richardson was ejected, after believing he was fouled on a drive to the basket.

Cleveland outscored New York, 30-15, in the period and led 61-35 at halftime. The Knicks shot a miserable 34 percent and turned the ball over 16 times leading to 27 points for Cleveland.

"Well, I think this is the thing you run into when you run into a good team without any gas in your tank. And it showed," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We got down by spirit and we got down early in the half and things unraveled."

At 10:36 of the third quarter, James was pulled to the floor by Harrington on a breakaway opportunity. "The King" sank both free throws.

"He knows I wasn't trying to hurt him," Harrington said. "It's over with. I just didn't want to get one of those highlight dunks, you know what I am saying?"

Cleveland cleared its bench in the fourth quarter and broke the 100-point barrier for the 12th time this season. The Cavaliers have won each of their last six by at least 12 points and 12 of their 15 wins have been by double digits.

Williams scored 16 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 14 and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.

Harrington finished with 20 points and Anthony Roberson added 19 off the bench.

"Circumstances have gotten to us, and we've got to fight through that," D'Antoni said. "We'll hopefully regroup for Friday and do that because you've got to fight."

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