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James, Ilgauskas lead Cavs to sweep of Wizards

May 1, 2007 - 4:23 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Washington Wizards showed they had some heart, but the Cleveland Cavaliers had LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The shorthanded Wizards played hard, but it was not enough to answer James and Ilgauskas down the stretch, as the Cavaliers pulled away for a 97-90 victory to complete a four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The absences of All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were just too much for the Wizards to overcome. They faced long enough odds as it was, as no team in NBA history had rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

"We have a good core when we're healthy and we'll build around that," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We've got good character. We've got a locker room that was solid that didn't leave the pack early, as you say, when guys got down a little bit and got hurt."

James and Ilgauskas teamed up to make sure Washington did not have a chance to make history, teaming up to help Cleveland complete its first sweep of a playoff series in their 36-year history.

James seemed more concerned with what the sweep means in the immediate future for his team rather than the historical implications.

"The most important thing is that it raises our confidence and allows us to get a little bit of rest," James said. "It's going to be a long, stressful and fatigueful postseason for us, so the most rest we can get by us taking care of business tonight is going to add to us being able to recover some of the nicks and bruises that we might have."

The second-seeded Cavaliers trailed, 67-66, entering the fourth quarter. James hit a 3-pointer with 5:59 to play to tie the game at 77-77.

Antawn Jamison was fouled by Drew Gooden while attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to give the Wizards their last lead, 80-77, with 5:37 remaining.

Ilgauskas then scored four points in an 8-2 run that gave Cleveland the lead for good, 85-80, with 3:23 to play.

"These guys made us work for everything that we got," Ilgauskas said. "We knew they had a lot of pride because nobody wants to lose a series 4-0. We knew it was going to be tough. It wasn't easy, but we stepped up at the end."

James and Ilgauskas combined on a pair of baskets in the final minute to put away the game. James started a drive from the right corner and pulled up to dump the ball to Ilgauskas, who caught it high and scored in one motion to make it 91-88 with 59 seconds left.

After a turnover by Jamison, Ilgauskas popped out to the left corner after setting a screen for James, who whipped a pass to the 7-3 center for a deep jumper that made it 93-88 with 33 seconds remaining.

"At the end of the ballgame, I'm going to get double-teamed and triple-teamed at times, but the whole series my team has been able to step up and knock down shots," James said. "I don't have to win a game by scoring - just try to control the pace and let my other guys take care of the work."

With the win, the Cavs have secured a spot in the Eastern Conference semifinals where they will face the winner of the series between the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors.

James scored 31 points and had 11 rebounds while Ilgauskas added 20 and 19.

Jamison scored 31 points for Washington.

"He played pretty good defense this series, but certainly he was everywhere," Jordan said of Jamison. "He was in the post. Everyone knew we were going through him. He made shots from the perimeter. Played off the dribble. He went back to his Golden State days - he played pretty much every dimension that he could bring to the table."

Cleveland trailed, 47-44, at the half and it could have been worse. James had 14 points at the break but was just 2-of-10 from the field. He was able to get to the line and made all 10 of his free throws over the first two quarters to help keep the game close.

"It was all about being patient. In the first half I didn't shoot the ball well. I missed a lot of easy ones," James said. "I missed a couple layups and some wide-open shots that I usually make. But I never got discouraged. My team won't allow me to do that. The same shots I missed in the first half, I was able to make in the second half."


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