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Wed, Apr 8, 2009 - 7:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

LeBron, Cavs cruise past Wizards this time

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CLEVELAND (AP)

LeBron James scored 21 points before spending part of the fourth quarter on the bench playing air guitar and dancing as the Cavs avenged an embarrassing loss to one of the league's weaker teams by thumping the rival Wizards 98-86 on Wednesday night to improve to 38-1 at home. With four games left, the Cavaliers still have a lot to play for. The win lowered the Cavaliers' magic number for locking up home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs to one. A Cleveland win on Friday night at Philadelphia or a Boston loss to Miami will give the Cavs (63-15) the East's top seed. The Cavs also lead the idle Los Angeles Lakers by one game for the league's top record. If they can make it to the Finals, the best record would guarantee the Cavs four home games in a seven-game series. None of that matters to James right now. "We're just trying to get better," he said. "We don't want to take a step back with four games to go." Home-court advantage might loom larger this season than in years past because of the Cavaliers' dominance in Cleveland. Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to have two 15-game winning streaks at home in the same season. If the Cavs can beat Boston (Sunday) and Philadelphia (next Wednesday) in their last two games at Quicken Loans Arena, they'll match the 1985-86 Celtics, whose 40-1 home mark is the league's all-time best. "What we've been able to do at home is unbelievable," James said. "It's something that we'll be able to talk about long after we're done playing." Mo Williams scored 14 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 13 rebounds for the Cavs, who for the first time in four years will not see the Wizards in the first round of the postseason. The teams have had a heated three-year rivalry, an annual get together punctuated by trash talk, hard fouls and a mutual disdain. "I think we can both say that we would rather not see each other anymore," James said. "It got a little bit out of control. It's a heated rivalry, man. They'll be back in it."
Cleveland's 38 home wins are a franchise record. The Cavs won 37 in 1988-89. Nick Young scored 16 to lead the Wizards, who stunned Cleveland last week and handed the Cavs two of their 15 losses this season. Washington's Gilbert Arenas didn't play, choosing to rest his surgically repaired right knee. Arenas' return had sparked the Wizards to their upset over the Cavs last week. It's been that kind of year for the Wizards - one good game followed two or three bad ones. Antawn Jamison has seen enough. "You play selfish basketball, try to pad the stats and not play to win games, you get blown out," the forward said. "The same stuff has been going on all year. It gets to the point where it's frustration. I don't know. It's not playing team basketball and not doing the things you need to do in order to win. "It's disappointing. We continue to take steps back. There are no excuses. The Wizards, for some reason, when they do something good, they take four or five steps back." Cleveland's only loss on its home court came against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 8. The Cavs weren't about to let the Wizards hand them No. 2. They jumped out to an early 13-point lead and were never threatened while moving to 23-4 since the All-Star break. Up by 11 at halftime, the Cavs blitzed the Wizards 13-4 to start the third, built a 24-point lead and coasted. Washington only made the score respectable in extended garbage time. Cleveland's Ben Wallace was back for the first time since breaking his right leg on Feb. 26 against Houston. Wallace didn't start, ending his steak of 766 straight games in the first unit. He had started every game he'd been healthy for since April 13, 1999, when he came off the bench for Orlando against the Cavs. When Wallace's dunk made it 89-69 in the fourth, James came on to the floor and showed off his best rock and roll moves. Wallace's basket was also followed by the familiar "dong" of the bell when Big Ben scores. "I didn't hear it," Wallace quipped. "I was breathing too hard." With Arenas and Brendan Haywood back in the lineup last week, and a Washington crowd fired up at seeing their team finally healthy, the Wizards shocked the Cavaliers 109-101. The next night, Cleveland got drubbed by 29 points at Orlando. Since then, though, Cleveland has been back on its game, playing solid defense and executing on offense in consecutive wins over San Antonio and Washington. "We just had an extra kind of aggression and incentive knowing they had beaten us twice in a row," Williams said. "We took care of business." Notes: Cavs became the 25th team in league history to win at least 63 games. ... With rookie F J.J. Hickson expected to miss two to three weeks with a sore back, the Cavaliers will sign F Jawad Williams on Thursday. Williams appeared in nine games for the club earlier this season. He has been playing with Rio Grande of the NBA's Developmental League. Williams was in Cleveland's locker room before the game. ... Brown doesn't expect the Wizards to be down long. "They'll definitely be back in the playoffs next year and be a force to reckon with," he said. ... Young had played only one minute in Washington's previous game because of a sprained left knee. ... James' missed free throw in the third ended a streak of 25 in a row.
Tagged: Cavaliers, Wizards

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