CLEVELAND – Poof! And like that, the Wizards put some kind of spell on LeBron James.
Gilbert Arenas scored 30 points, Antawn Jamison added 21 and Washington bottled up Cleveland’s superstar Tuesday night as the Wizards downed the Cavaliers 89-84 to even their Eastern Conference series at one game apiece.
Caron Butler added 21 points and was Washington’s primary defender on James, who recorded a triple-double in his playoff debut but played like a mere mortal in his second postseason game as a pro.
James finished with 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting, but matched his career high with 10 turnovers and made some mental errors, including a costly one late when he made an out-of-bounds save under his own basket that was picked off by Arenas for an easy layup.
The Wizards, who returned to Washington after Game 1, came up with all the right adjustments to snap Cleveland’s 12-game winning streak at home.
Drew Gooden scored 24 points on 11-of-12 shooting and added 16 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who trailed 85-77 with 1:34 left following Arenas’ gift layup and free throw. A free throw by James and two by Gooden got the Cavs within 85-80, and Cleveland was still alive when Arenas missed an ill-advised 3-pointer.
Larry Hughes’ jumper made it 87-82, and James made two more free throws to pull Cleveland within three. Billy Thomas then missed a pair of free throws for Washington, and the Cavs looked as if they would get even closer when James found Anderson Varejao in the lane.
Nets 90, Pacers 75
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Indiana Pacers were done in by things they couldn’t control: the referees and Vince Carter.
Carter rebounded from a dismal shooting performance to score 33 points Tuesday night and lead the New Jersey Nets to an 90-75 victory over the foul-plagued and undermanned Pacers, evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Richard Jefferson added 21 points and Nenad Krstic had 20 points and 10 rebounds as New Jersey avoided losing the first two games at home.
Jason Kidd added six points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a game the Pacers probably felt was decided a little too much by an officiating crew that included Violet Palmer, the first female to referee a postseason game.
The crew called two fouls apiece on Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson in the first quarter, and the Pacers were never able to find their offense on a night forward Peja Stojakovic was also sidelined with a sore right knee.
The Pacers’ trio averaged a combined 56 points during the regular season. Jackson had 10 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. O’Neal finished with 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting and five fouls.
Anthony Johnson, who hit two game-winning free throws in Sunday’s 90-88 victory, led the Pacers with 17. Fred Jones added 13.
Carter, who was a woeful 12-of-33 in Game 1 and took a lot of criticism in the newspapers the following day for both the number of shots and his shot selection, was right on target in Game 2. He made his first five shots from the field and his first miss came late in the quarter with a toss to beat the shot clock.
Carter finished 12-for-20 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free throw line on a night New Jersey shot 46.5 percent and held Indiana to 35 percent.
New Jersey, which led 26-22 at the end of the first quarter, expanded the lead to 44-36 after an ugly second quarter. Indiana missed 21 of its last 25 shots in the half.
O’Neal picked up his third foul on a questionable loose ball call and went to the bench with 8:58 to play in the quarter. Indiana scored only 10 points and had three baskets the rest of the way, but the Nets couldn’t put away the Pacers.
Jefferson scored six straight points to cap an early 8-0 run that gave the Nets a 50-36 lead early in the third quarter, a span in which O’Neal picked up his fourth foul. A 7-0 run at the end of the quarter that Jefferson capped with a slam pushed the lead to 73-53.
Indiana managed to close the gap to 79-71 with 3:32 to play, but Carter scored five straight points to put away the game.
Notes: The officiating crew called 43 personal fouls and six technicals, with Nets coach Lawrence Frank picking up his second in two games. Stojakovic, a 90 percent free throw shooter, usually takes the Pacers’ shots on technicals. Johnson, Jackson and Fred Jones all missed their attempts on technicals. … Nets F Jason Collins needed stitches to close a cut on his chin in the first quarter. … LaVar Arrington, who signed with the New York Giants last week, was at the game with fellow New York linebacker Antonio Pierce. Filmmaker Spike Lee was among the celebrities. … Pacers G Jamaal Tinsley was active for Indiana after missing the series opener and the last three games of the regular season.