Cavaliers 108, Nets 102


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – LeBron James scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to lead Cleveland to a 108-102 victory Saturday, ending New Jersey’s 14-game winning streak and leaving the Nets one win shy of a franchise record.

Vince Carter scored 33 points for New Jersey (46-29) but missed three jumpers and a foul shot in the final minute. New Jersey was trying to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999-00 to win at least 15 games in a row. The Lakers won 19 from Feb. 4 through March 13, 2000.

One game after scoring 21 fourth-quarter points in a loss to New York on Wednesday, James took over again in the final period. His two free throws with 21 seconds left gave the Cavaliers a 105-102 lead, and Carter missed a 3-pointer on New Jersey’s next possession.

Cleveland scored 12 of the game’s final 13 points, with New Jersey’s only score coming on a free throw by Carter.

Cleveland (46-30) needs a loss by Washington to Miami later Saturday to clinch home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. New Jersey fell three games behind Miami for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey led 101-96 after Carter spun around Drew Gooden and scored with 1:15 left. But Gooden made two free throws and James scored on a fast break while being fouled and completed the three-point play to tie the score at 101 with 50 seconds left.

After Carter missed on two jumpers, Nenad Krstic fouled Anderson Varejao and the Brazilian second-year player – in the lineup in place of injured Zydrunas Ilgauskas – made both to give Cleveland its first lead since early in the second quarter.

New Jersey led by as many as 11 points early in the third quarter before Cleveland made it 70-70 on a free throw by Gooden with 3:32 left. James, who had 17 points at halftime, scored just two in the quarter.

Both teams shot well in the first quarter and finished the period shooting 60 percent. The Nets made the game’s first run in the second quarter.

After James converted a three-point play to open the scoring and give Cleveland a 30-26 lead, the Nets scored 17 of the next 19 points. Clifford Robinson had nine in the spurt, including a 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk off a steal by Kidd that gave the Nets 43-32 lead. Cleveland cut it to 56-51 at the break, helped by Larry Hughes’ nine points in the quarter.

Carter had 20 points by halftime on 7-for-11 shooting, while James had 17 and eight rebounds.

Notes: Ilgauskas missed his second game with a left ankle sprain. … Robinson’s second 3-pointer in the first half moved him past Chuck Person for 18th place on the NBA’s all-time list with 1,221. Kidd made one to tie Latrell Sprewell for 27th place with 1,105. … Carter extended his club record of scoring at least 20 points to 20 consecutive games. His personal record is 23, set twice while he was with Toronto. … The Cavaliers, who average of 28 free throws a game, shot 22 in the first half and 41 in the game. … New Jersey gave up more than 90 points for just the fourth time since the winning streak began on March 12.

AP-ES-04-08-06 1559EDT