CLEVELAND – Drew Gooden scored a season-high 22 points, LeBron James kicked in 15 and Damon Jones dropped three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers hold off the Memphis Grizzlies 97-94 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers, who have won six of seven, nearly blew a 20-point lead in the second half but made big shots and big plays down the stretch to improve the Eastern Conference’s best record to 8-3.

Jones, who finished with 21 points – 11 in the fourth – made two free throws with 15 seconds left and Donyell Marshall added a pair of foul shots with 6.7 seconds to go for the Cavs, playing their third game without injured guard Larry Hughes.

Chucky Atkins had 17 to lead the Grizzlies. But it was Mike Miller (15 points) and Brian Cardinal (12) who rallied Memphis, which outscored Cleveland 28-17 in the final period but never took the lead.

Gooden went 9-of-12 from the field and added 15 rebounds in 30 minutes against the team that selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2002. If not for Gooden’s intensity and rebounding, the Cavaliers, who have had a tendency to play up or down to their competition this season, would have been in trouble.

Despite playing their second game in two nights, the Grizzlies were the ones with all the energy in the second half.

Trailing by 14 after three, they outscored the Cavaliers 12-0 to open the fourth and were within 80-78 on a layup by Dahntay Jones with 7:06 remaining.

Pistons 97, 76ers 87

PHILADELPHIA – Rasheed Wallace had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons took advantage of Allen Iverson’s absence to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 97-87 on Tuesday night.

Tayshaun Prince added 25 points and Richard Hamilton scored 16 as Detroit (6-5) led all the way and won its third straight game. Chauncey Billups finished with 11 points and 11 assists.

Pacers 93, Bucks 88

INDIANAPOLIS – Jermaine O’Neal scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Tuesday night, and Jamaal Tinsley added 17 as the Pacers scored the final 14 points to rally past Milwaukee 93-88 on Tuesday night.

Maurice Williams scored 22 points and Michael Redd added 21 for the Bucks.

Hornets 101, Heat 86

OKLAHOMA CITY -Peja Stojakovic scored 23 points and the New Orleans Hornets opened the fourth quarter with a 10-point run to pull away for a 101-86 victory over the Miami Heat.

With mostly reserves on the floor, the Hornets scored 10 straight points to take an 85-71 lead after Bobby Jackson converted a three-point play off a floating finger roll down the left baseline.

Stojakovic, who won New Orleans’ last game with a last-second 3-pointer Saturday at Minnesota, stretched the lead to 15 with a 3-pointer near the top of the key. The defending NBA champions never got closer than 11 after that, and Miami coach Pat Riley pulled his starters with 3:17 left and the Hornets up 16.

Dwyane Wade had 29 points for Miami, and Jason Williams added 13.

Mavericks 107, Wizards 80

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki scored seven of his 30 points in a game-turning run that ended the third quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks won their seventh straight game with a 107-80 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Gilbert Arenas, coming off a 45-point performance in Washington’s last game, already had 26 when he made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 9:29 left in the third quarter.

Then the Wizards went cold, missing 10 straight shots. By time DeShawn Stevenson drove for a basket in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, the Wizards were down by 12 points.

After Arenas’ 3-pointer, Nowitzki responded with one of his own to tie the game at 58. That started a 21-6 run over the remainder of the third quarter that put the Mavericks firmly in control.

The Mavericks haven’t lost since following their trip to the NBA finals by starting 0-4 for the first time. Their winning streak is the longest in the NBA, one more than Utah, which was off Tuesday night.

Washington is winless in its first five road games, the latest it has gone this deep in the season without a road victory since 1999-00. The Wizards play in Houston tonight.

Arenas finished with 29 points.

AP-ES-11-21-06 2256EST


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