for this game

James scores 55 as Cavaliers hold off Bucks

Feb 21, 2009 - 5:47 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- LeBron James showed that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not need to make a move at the NBA's trading deadline.

James scored a season-high 55 points, including 24 in the third quarter, as the Cavaliers surged past the Milwaukee Bucks for a 111-103 victory on Friday.

The Cleveland superstar was 16-of-29 from the floor, including a sizzling 8-of-11 from the 3-point line. He made 15-of-22 foul shots and added nine assists and five rebounds, falling one point short of his career high set March 20, 2005 at Toronto.

"This was probably one of the top two performances in my career besides the Palace in Game Five," James said, referring to his 48-point game in the Eastern Conference finals in 2007. "But you can never compare a playoff game to a regular-season game."

James' outburst comes one day after the Cavaliers failed to make a move prior to Thursday's deadline, although the team was rumored to be interested in such players as Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison.

"LeBron's performance was unbelievable," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "I'm really speechless with what he did out there in the third quarter. I've been around him four years and I get amazed with the things he does."

With Cleveland trailing by six points at the break, the third quarter belonged to "The King."

The All-Star made four consecutive 3-pointers - around a pair of missed free throws - as Cleveland went on a 24-4 burst to open the frame and take a 75-61 bulge with 7:43 left. James scored 17 points during the run as he pulled up to shoot the ball from all over the floor.

"I just got in a zone," James said. "I saw a few go down so I just kept at it. Every shot I made, every shot that we made tonight, we needed it. It was a tough test for us tonight. We were happy we were able to come away with a win."

Milwaukee fought back and eventually tied the game at 82-82 before Cleveland regained the lead, taking an 86-82 edge into the fourth. James was 8-for-11 from the floor in the quarter, including 5-of-6 from the arc.

"The start of our third quarter was just so casual," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "This is the second game in a row that our ball-handling positions have gotten too casual. You have to give LeBron his due during that time period, too. He hit some shots three or four feet behind the 3-point line.

"We battled back and we had our opportunities and we weren't able to get it."

The Bucks cut the deficit to one early in the fourth, but the Cavaliers had too much down the stretch. Mo Williams' 3-pointer made it a 103-93 game with 4:26 remaining.

"It was a team effort," Brown said. "LeBron was the difference of the game. Our defense picked up the intensity and gave a great effort."

Williams finished with 23 points for the Cavaliers, who shot 13-of-26 from the arc.

Charlie Villanueva had 26 points and 13 rebounds but was ejected with 6:54 left for a flagrant-2 foul on Anderson Varejao. Richard Jefferson added 17 points for the Bucks.

Milwaukee led by two after one quarter and expanded its lead to as many as 13 points midway through the second. Charlie Bell made a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that gave the Bucks a 48-35 bulge with 5:09 left in the first half.

James scored 12 of his team's final 16 points to bring the Cavaliers back in it, and his 30-foot fallaway 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer cut the deficit to 57-51 at the intermission.

"At halftime coach got on us because defensively we weren't into it," James said. "We weren't playing the style of basketball we knew we were capable of playing."