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James, Cavs bounce shorthanded Wizards

Apr 7, 2007 - 7:06 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- It wasn't pretty, but LeBron James kept the Cleveland Cavaliers' hopes of hosting a playoff series alive.

James overcame some poor shooting from the field to score 25 points as the Cavaliers continued their quest for home-court advantage in the postseason with a 99-94 victory over the undermanned Washington Wizards.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 18 points and Larry Hughes added 15 for the Cavaliers, who won on the road for the fourth time in their last six games.

"Washington is a good team," James said. "A playoff team. Anytime you can go on the road and get a win like this, that's big."

In doing so, Cleveland (46-31) remained in contention for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. It is still tied with Chicago (46-31), which routed New Jersey, 105-74, on Friday and holds the tiebreaker for home court for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.

If the Cavaliers cannot overtake the Bulls, they will have to settle for the fifth spot because division leaders Toronto and Miami have worse records.

"We're not worried about that right now," Hughes said about the team's playoff positioning. "We're more worried about playing good basketball and winning games. The rest will take care of itself."

Although he finished just 7-of-23 from the field, James scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, converting all of six of his free-throw attempts.

"I really didn't think about it," James said about his shooting struggles. "I just kept playing my game. The shots will eventually fall. This is a good win for us."

Antonio Daniels, who was in the Wizards' starting lineup in place of the injured Gilbert Arenas, tied the score at 82-82 on two free throws with 5:01 remaining. Arenas hurt his left knee Wednesday in a loss to Charlotte and likely out for the season.

Hughes answered back with a pair from the stripe for Cleveland, starting a 9-3 run that James capped on a dunk with 2:13 remaining.

Antawn Jamison scored 27 points for Washington, which also played without All-Star Caron Butler, who suffered a broken hand in Sunday's win at Milwaukee.

"It's tough when you loose a guy like Caron," Jamison said. "It's real tough when you are without Caron and Gilbert. We just have to come together as a group and step it up. We have to do all the little things and we can't afford to make mistakes."

Although they did a better job offensively than in the loss to the Bobcats by shooting 51 percent (38-of-74), the Wizards struggled on the free-throw line, making just 12-of-22 (55 percent) attempts.

Making his third straight start for Washington, Etan Thomas recorded a third consecutive double-double for the first time in his career with 10 points and 14 rebounds. He has collected 46 points and 38 boards over that span.

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