CLEVELAND – LeBron James scored 40 points – 34 in the second half – and made a crucial block on former teammate Carlos Boozer in the final seconds Friday night to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 99-94 victory over Utah, ending a five-game winning streak by the Jazz.

James, playing as he did while leading the Cavs to their first NBA finals last season, did it all.

He just missed another triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks. He made 13 of 15 free throws, including four straight in the final 3.8 seconds as the Cavs sealed it.

James, who had 16 points in the third and 18 in the fourth, either scored or assisted on 15 of Cleveland’s 19 baskets in the second half. However, his biggest play was the block with 12.8 seconds left on Boozer, who is still regarded as a villain by Cleveland fans for reneging on a promise and leaving as a free agent.

Cleveland, which led by seven with two minutes left, was only up 94-92 when Boozer got the ball on the low block. But as he began to spin in the lane and go up, James swooped in from behind and swatted the ball away with his left hand.

Boozer jumped in the air and screamed to officials about the no-call. Utah’s All-Star forward then had words with James as they walked slowly to the other end of the floor.

Cleveland’s Devin Brown then split a pair of free throws and Utah pulled within 95-94 on a basket by Andrei Kirilenko.

James was fouled, and Cleveland’s superstar, who has struggled with his free-throw shooting, made both attempts to put the Cavs up by three. Utah had a chance to tie it, but Mehmet Okur missed a 3-pointer with two seconds to go, James grabbed his 10th rebound and made two more foul shots to make it 99-94.

After the final horn, James and Boozer stood underneath the basket, hugged and spoke for several moments before leaving the court.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who held the NBA’s highest scoring team to 15 points less than their average.

Boozer, booed every time he touched the ball, led Utah with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

With the Cavs down by seven early in the fourth, James moved to point guard and immediately turned things around.

First, he drove for a left-handed layup to get Cleveland within five, and then whipped a cross-court pass through traffic to Damon Jones, whose 3-pointer – the Cavs missed their first eight 3s – made it 75-73.

On Cleveland’s next possession, James fumbled the ball away on a drive, but before the ball bounced out, he leaped over the baseline to make a one-handed save, and in one motion, sent a bounce pass into the far corner where Jones knocked down another 3-pointer to put the Cavs ahead 76-75.

Short-handed all season because of contract holdouts and injuries, the Cavaliers were without oft-injured Larry Hughes, their fragile guard who will miss at least four weeks with a deep bone bruise in his leg.

Sasha Pavlovic started in place of Hughes and scored 12 in 27 minutes.

Notes: Cavs G Eric Snow has been cleared for contact following knee surgery and could soon be activated. … If Cleveland doesn’t have practice, James said he would consider attending the Ohio State-Michigan showdown on Saturday in Ann Arbor. “I’d be mad if I went up there and it rained, though,” he said. … Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is 31-19 in 50 career games coaching against the Cavaliers. … While Hughes has never played a full season because of assorted injuries, Jones hasn’t missed a game in his 10-year career because he was hurt. “Not one,” Jones said, knocking on his wooden locker room cubicle. AP-ES-11-16-07 2225EST


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