for this game

Cavaliers rally to stay perfect at home

Dec 26, 2008 - 5:24 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers received a Christmas present from the Washington Wizards - a victory.

Trailing by seven late in the game, Cleveland scored the final 11 points of the contest and rallied for a 93-89 victory over Washington to remain undefeated at home this season.

The Wizards (4-23), who own the worst record in the Eastern Conference, outplayed the Cavaliers for much of the game but could not close the deal.

"We should have had the win, but there were a couple of poor executions on our part and there were some other poor executions out there, too," Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "Those were big plays that did not go our way."

On a night when Washington's Mike James outscored LeBron James, 26-18, the Cavaliers had to scratch and claw to overcome 42 percent shooting (31-of-74) and 17 turnovers.

"We played hard, but it just wasn't there," Cavaliers guard Mo Williams said.

"That's probably one of the ugliest games I've been a part of," LeBron James said. "It would have ruined my Christmas if we had lost."

Cleveland (25-4) improved to 15-0 at Quicken Loans Arena and remained the NBA's only unbeaten home team.

"We never lost our composure, down seven, it's a three-possession ballgame, with limited time left," LeBron James said.

The Cavaliers trailed, 89-82, with 1:40 left before cutting the deficit to one with less than 30 seconds to play. Off Delonte West's missed 3-pointer, Anderson Varejao came up with a critical offensive rebound and was fouled.

The Brazilian sank both free throws to give Cleveland a 90-89 lead with just under 27 seconds to play.

On the ensuing possession, Washington forward Caron Butler was tagged for a charging foul with 8.7 seconds left and Mo Williams made a pair from the line to extend Cleveland's lead to three.

A game-tying 3-point attempt by Washington's James caromed off the front rim to West, who was immediately fouled.

West, who collected 18 points and seven assists, sank the second of two free throws to seal Cleveland's win.

"I'm trying to be leader and help this team do whatever it takes to get a 'W,'" Mike James said. "Since I have been here, I haven't won a game yet in a Wizards uniform."

Williams scored 24 points and Varejao finished with 13 and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, which handed Washington its eighth straight loss.

Washington led, 76-68, early in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland used a 12-3 run to take an 80-79 lead on a three-point play by LeBron James at 4:13.

Mike James answered with five quick points and Antawn Jamison's layup had the Wizards on top 86-80.

West's steal that turned into LeBron's layup made it 86-82, but Jamison knocked down a 3-pointer for an 89-82 cushion with 1:40 left.

"In the fourth quarter, our guys turned up their focus, they turned up their effort level, and they turned up their energy level," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "It resulted in us attacking and getting to the free-throw line, which was a big difference in the ballgame."

The Cavaliers were 19-of-26 from the line compared to 4-of-7 for the Wizards.

Jamison scored 28 points to lead Washington.

"I would say to you that losing is painful always," Tapscott said. "But, if you walk out of here tonight, you've got to think at least your heads are held up high by your effort."