95 - 112 Final
  for this game

LeBron, Williams hold off Clippers down the stretch

Jan 31, 2009 - 4:31 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- It took them most of the night, but the Cleveland Cavaliers finally put away the pesky Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Fresh off one of their most lopsided losses of the season to Orlando on Thursday, the Cavs got back on track, but not without a bit of a fight.

LeBron James scored 25 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 20 in his return from a fractured left ankle to lead Cleveland to a 112-95 victory over the Clips.

"It's always a luxury to have him out on the court," James said of Ilgauskas. "The bigs just can't sit in the paint, or they'll be burned by him shooting jumpers. The offense runs a lot smoother when he's out there. His ability to spread the floor helps us a lot. When he's not in there, it seems the paint is much more crowded."

"We were a little unfortunate to catch them on a night they get Ilgauskas back," Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He certainly paid the rent tonight. He's got really good range at that size and that just gives them something they have been missing."

Los Angeles stayed close well into the fourth quarter before the Cavs finally created some distance. Mo Williams kicked off a 13-2 run with a 3-pointer and capped it off the same way to push the lead to 102-85. Williams finished with 23 points and six assists.

The win kept Cleveland as the only undefeated team at home this season (22-0) and tied a franchise record for consecutive home wins.

"We just want to keep it going," Williams said. "We want to keep playing well at home and keep doing the things that we do to win games."

Rookie guard Eric Gordon collected 27 points and seven boards for the Clippers, who have dropped four in a row and have just two wins in January.

Coming into the night, it was as lopsided a meeting as one could find in the NBA - a nine-loss Cavaliers team with championship aspirations facing off against a 10-win Clippers squad with a chance for the first overall draft pick. And for a few minutes, things proceeded exactly as expected - in blowout fashion.

James exploded into the lane for a layup and converted the three-point play on the game's opening possession as the Cavs scored the game's first 11 points.

"He's a competitor," Gordon said of playing in his first game against James. "He's so freakish and athletic; you won't see too many guys like him."

Marcus Camby finally broke the Clippers' scoring drought as he tipped in Al Thornton's miss, but Cleveland didn't stop piling on. Sasha Pavlovic answered with a long jumper on the other end, then added a 3-pointer moments later. At the 7:13 mark of the quarter, James found Pavlovic for an easy layup to extend the team's lead to 20-4.

"I thought (James') passing was pinpoint and he set the shooters up with a lot of time for shots," Dunleavy said. "When I went over our film, the most impressive stuff to me when you watch them play is his passing."

But the Clippers marched right back, putting the Cavs on their heels largely on the strength of their top rookie. Gordon, who has smoothly taken on a larger scoring role in lieu of injured point guard Baron Davis, scored nine points in a two-minute span to cut Cleveland's lead to just four.

Thornton did the rest, burying a pair of jumpers late in the period to tie things up at 26-26. The contest remained tied at the half before the Cavs finally re-assumed control after the break.

"We made a lot of shots, then they made a lot of shots," James said. "Every team makes a run and they made theirs. They kept it close for a long period of time. We decided to buckle down on the defensive end and finally were able to push the lead out."

"Down the stretch, they just started making plays and it's hard to beat them like that," Gordon said. "We were shorthanded, but we started playing well together, and that's all we could do."

The win guaranteed the Cavaliers would have at least a tie for the best record in the Eastern Conference as of February 1, earning coach Mike Brown the opportunity to coach James and the rest of the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Phoenix on February 15. James seemed to have mixed feelings about having his defensive-minded coach leading the way.

"I don't know if Mike is going to like all that high-powered scoring offense," James said. "He might go crazy. I will always be a coachable player, but if he tells me I have to play defense in the first quarter, I will not be coachable then."