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James fouls out but Cavs still scratch one out vs. Bobcats

Apr 3, 2008 - 3:47 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - LeBron James fouled out, but not before he scored 29 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 118-114 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

James led a balanced attack with seven of the Cavs scoring in double figures, including all five starters, but it was reserve Wally Szczerbiak who came up big when it counted with nine of his 11 points in the final quarter.

"Every time we get a win, it doesn't matter what other teams are doing," James said. "Our guys stepped up tonight. There were some big shots by Wally (Szczerbiak), and Devin (Brown) did a great job of getting to the lane."

Cleveland (42-33) pulled four games ahead of Washington (38-37) for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference while Charlotte's playoff hopes got even dimmer. The Bobcats (28-47) are six games out of the final playoff spot with just seven games left and three teams ahead of them.

The Bobcats have been just what struggling road teams have needed of late. Cleveland snapped its six-game road losing streak Wednesday and Toronto snapped its seven-game road skid Monday.

Cleveland had not won on the road since a victory at New York on March 5.

"It is a win," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Sometimes you have to take a win, especially when you haven't gotten wins on the road. There are a lot of positives what we can take from the game."

James converted a three-point play with 5:05 remaining in the fourth to put Cleveland ahead for good at 104-101 after Charlotte used a 6-0 spurt to tie the game.

James fouled out just over a minute later but the rest of the Cavaliers picked up the slack.

"It was really frustrating," James said. "But we got the win and that's all that matters. I don't like sitting on the bench and not being out there for my teammates, but I think we made a big step forward with the way the guys kept their composure and won a big game."

Szczerbiak added another basket for Cleveland to push the lead to four. The Cavs continued to dump the ball inside down the stretch and got six points down the stretch from center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

"I was a lot more patient tonight and let the game come to me," Szczerbiak said. "The guys did a good job finding me and then it always helps when a few go in for you."

Charlotte's Jason Richardson made it interesting in the final minute with two 3-pointers, but the Bobcats were never able to get closer than two points.

James scored nine points in a pivotal 16-4 run during the third quarter including a pair of free throws with 7:43 to play which catapulted the Cavaliers into the lead for the first time in the second half.

Despite playing without Ben Wallace for the second straight game (back spasms), Cleveland outscored Charlotte 62-58 in the paint and outrebounded the Bobcats 47-38.

"We got good performances from Anderson (Varejao) and (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) in the paint," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

Charlotte led at the half 62-58 after shooting .590 in the first half behind 16 points from Gerald Wallace.

Richardson paced the Bobcats with 31 points while Emeka Okafor added a season-high 25 points.

"We feel very confident," Richardson said, "But we've had a lot of games like this. We want to finish up the season strong. We played a tough game tonight, but we didn't get the win."

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