Cavaliers 104, Nets 97
James scored 32 points to lead the Cavaliers to their 12th straight win Tuesday night, a 104-97 victory over the New Jersey Nets. The win gives Cleveland the longest winning streak in the NBA this season. The Cavaliers (42-11) also have the best record in the league.
James, who was named the Eastern Conference's player of the week for the fifth time this season Monday, was 13-of-21 from the field with 11 assists and three rebounds.
``He's an amazing player and keeps getting better and better,'' New Jersey coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``There aren't accolades to describe his game.''
There have been few accolades to describe how well Cleveland has played lately. Besides their winning streak, the Cavaliers are a league-best 23-3 at home, winning 10 straight and 21 of 22.
``It's impressive no matter what league you're in, no matter who you're playing against,'' James said. ``To have a 12-game winning streak against the best competition in the world is impressive. Hopefully we can continue that on Thursday.''
James was referring to Cleveland's next game when Orlando visits Quicken Loans Arena in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals, which the Magic won in six games.
While the Nets held the lead for most of the first quarter and were within four points late in the third period, New Jersey's miserable season continued. The Nets (4-47) have the NBA's worst record and have lost seven straight. New Jersey played without point guard Devin Harris, who has a sprained left shoulder. Courtney Lee led the Nets with 24 points.
Nets swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts, who averages 12.2 points, was benched Tuesday night. He left Saturday's game with back spasms, but Vandeweghe said he wanted to look at other players.
Douglas-Roberts, who has expressed displeasure with his role, showed up expecting to play.
``You get surprised a lot in the league. It is what it is,'' Douglas-Roberts said. ``Things don't work out all the time. I guess I'm out of the rotation.''
Douglas-Roberts doesn't plan on complaining to Vandeweghe.
``Absolutely not. I don't think talks really do anything,'' Douglas-Roberts said. ``I've probably had the most talks with him on the team. But they don't do nothing.''
Even James is puzzled about the Nets' woes.
``They have a lot of talent,'' he said. ``I think Brook Lopez one day will be an all-star. Devin Harris one day could be an all-star. They have good talent. I don't see why they are where they are at this point in the season.''
Jawad Willams scored a career-high 17 points while Anderson Varejao added 15 for Cleveland.
The Nets built an eight-point lead in the first quarter thanks primarily to 11 points by Jarvis Hayes, who hit three 3-pointers. Cleveland scored the last seven points of the quarter and went ahead for good early in the second period.
The Cavaliers' spurt was capped when with a highlight reel play at both ends of the court. It began when Shaquille O'Neal blocked Lopez's shot at the basket. The 7-foot-1, 325-pound center grabbed the ball and dribbled up the floor before finding James on the wing. James made a perfect alley-oop pass to Varejao, who finished the play with a dunk, bringing the crowd to its feet. O'Neal then gave Varejao a resounding chest bump and the Nets called timeout.
``It was good. It surprised all of us,'' James said. ``He doesn't dunk the ball a lot and he doesn't catch lobs at all. For him to go up there and catch it was surprising and definitely a momentum builder at that point.''
James converted his own dunk off a lob pass from Daniel Gibson moments later.
The Cavaliers led by six points at halftime and stretched the margin to 10 on two occasions. The Nets cut the lead to four late in the period, but the Cavaliers put the game away with away with a 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter. Jawad Williams hit two 3-pointers while James added a 3-pointer and a fast break dunk, which built the lead to 91-74.
James scored 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers pulled away.
``You know if you stick around for three quarters, he's going to assert himself in the fourth,'' Lopez said.
Lopez scored 23 points and Hayes added 19 for the Nets.
The Nets have lost 15 straight on the road and are 1-27 away from home.
NOTES: Cleveland is 3-0 against New Jersey this season and has won seven straight in the series. ... Cleveland played without guard Delonte West (broken left finger) for the ninth straight game. ... Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were hit with technical fouls for arguing with an official. ... The Nets are hopeful Harris, who is averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 assists, can return Wednesday against Milwaukee.