for this game

James, Cavaliers blitz Hornets

Jan 17, 2009 - 5:45 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- It was unclear what made LeBron James feel worse - his performance on Thursday night or a nagging cold. He didn't let either hold him back against one of the league's best teams.

James scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers continued their home dominance with Friday's convincing 92-78 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

James added 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who now are 20-0 at Quicken Loans Arena. They became the sixth team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to win their first 20 games of the season at home.

"I thought it was a good win against a very good basketball team," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "... I thought that LeBron was a monster on the boards."

LeBron said that chemistry plays a part in his team's success.

"We're just a hard-working team," James said. "Being as close as we are off the court really helps that. That makes the game a lot easier when you're really close with your teammates."

The 24-year-old James made 6-of-10 shots in the final 12 minutes as Cleveland (31-7) continued its best start in franchise history. The Cavs looked like an elite team in this one against one of the Western Conference's top squads.

The reigning scoring champion and leading MVP candidate, James bounced back from one of his worst performances of the season, an 8-of-28, eight-turnover effort in an overtime loss at Chicago on Thursday night.

James was feeling worse Friday as he spent the day holding back the sniffles and eating chicken noodle soup. When asked prior to the game, the young phenom said that his strength was a five on a scale of 1-10.

It would have been a wonder to see what he could pull off at full strength on this night, which was highlighted by an array of fourth-quarter jumpers and an eye-popping follow slam that awoke an uncharacteristically comatose Cleveland crowd.

That energy was something Hornets coach Byron Scott said was missing from his team.

"The true difference between the teams, I think, is the fact that they seemed like they were playing with a real purpose as far as winning the championship, and I don't know if we are playing with that same purpose," Scott said.

James will have to rest up with the Cavs' tough upcoming four-game road trip, including games at the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz.

"It's always good for us to continue to get better," James said. "I think tonight, defensively, we were really in tune with the game plan. We went out and executed it. It's always good before you go on the West Coast."

Sasha Pavlovic and Mo Williams combined for 36 points for Cleveland, which was without Delonte West. The slick guard will be out five to six weeks after Friday's MRI confirmed that he has a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist.

"Those guys stepped in when they were open and shot it with confidence," Brown said. "LeBron's going to face a lot of double-teams, Mo's going to be able to get in the lane, (Daniel Gibson's) going to be able to get in the lane, and those guys have to be ready."

The Cavs didn't need him the first three quarters, when they built a 68-58 lead, setting up James' knockout punch in the final period.

David West scored 23 points and Chris Paul had 18, seven rebounds and six assists for New Orleans, which was hit with five technical fouls. Paul and James Posey were ejected in the final minutes after being assessed their second technicals with the outcome already decided.

Paul admitted that it was a conversation with two friends courtside that led to his ejection. He presumably had become friendly with the two while in Cleveland with good friend James over the summer.

"It's funny because I'm here in Cleveland a lot all summer, and the two guys sitting courtside, those are two guys that I'm with pretty often," Paul said. "They asked me what happened and I said, 'They called an offensive foul, ain't that a trip?

"And the referee heard me tell them that and they threw me out. Those two are two that I know, so I was talking to them ... ref heard it and ejected me. They threw me out. I ain't got no reason to lie. I didn't say no curse words. Do you think that's a reason to be ejected from a game?"

Maybe not, but Paul and the Hornets had bigger problems.

After falling behind by 15 points midway through the fourth, the Hornets made a run, scoring seven straight points to make it 80-72 on Peja Stojakovic's three-point play with four minutes left.

Just 20 seconds later, Pavlovic nailed a momentum-swinging 3-pointer to restore order for Cleveland, which traded points the rest of the way.