James runs show for Cavs in 100-99 victory
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers are down to their third point guard. Their fourth might be the best in the NBA.
LeBron James had 37 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, and Daniel Gibson hit a 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds left to carry Cleveland to a 100-99 win against Oklahoma City last night. It was the Thunder's second loss in two nights in the final seconds.
Shaquille O'Neal had a season-high 22 points for Cleveland (34-11).
Injuries to Mo Williams and Delonte West forced Gibson into a starting role for the first time since Dec. 23, 2007. But James ran the Cavs' offense most of the night, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter and sealing the win with a huge block on Kevin Durant with 3 seconds remaining.
"It's just timing. You have to time it up perfect," James said. "I jumped when he jumped, and luckily he landed a little bit before I did."
Durant had 34 points, and Russell Westbrook added 23 for Oklahoma City, which concluded its longest trip of the season by playing for the third time in four nights. The Thunder (24-20) lost to Memphis on Friday night when Rudy Gay hit a 20-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Oklahoma City's last four losses have come by a combined five points.
"It's a tough league," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys believe in themselves. These are tough losses, but you have to go through some tough losses to understand what it is to win in this league and win big in this league."
Cleveland trailed by a point when James grabbed a rebound and drove the length of the floor. When the defense collapsed on him, he fired to a wide open Gibson, even though Gibson had struggled most of the night. He finished with 13 points.
He failed to record an assist and missed open looks early, but James still had faith in Gibson, who routinely hit big shots as a rookie during the Cavaliers' march to the NBA finals three years ago. Gibson's 3-pointer put the Cavaliers up 98-96 with 8.7 seconds left.
"That guy (James) is unbelievable," Gibson said. "He seems to always make those plays where he trusts his teammates. I'm happy I knocked it down for him."
The Thunder had one final chance to tie, but James guarded Durant for the first time all night and forced him left before getting the block.
James then hit two free throws with two seconds left to seal the win.
NUGGETS 116, HORNETS 110
Carmelo Anthony scored four of his 30 points in overtime and added 11 rebounds for host Denver in the Nuggets' season-high sixth straight victory.
Denver's Kenyon Martin added 20 points and 14 rebounds, Chauncey Billups had 20 points and nine assists, and Arron Afflalo had 19 points, hitting two 3-pointers in overtime.
Chris Paul had 26 points, seven in overtime, and 10 assists for the Hornets.
MAGIC 106, BOBCATS 95
Jameer Nelson scored six of his 21 points in overtime and visiting Orlando recovered after blowing a big lead against Charlotte.
After Stephen Jackson's layup with 1.2 seconds left in regulation completed Charlotte's comeback from a 16-point third-quarter deficit, Nelson hit a jumper and two free throws in an 11-0 run to start OT.
76ERS 107, PACERS 97
Elton Brand scored 23 points, and Thaddeus Young had 22 points and 10 rebounds in visiting Philadelphia's victory over Indiana.
Allen Iverson, recently voted a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, had 17 points, five rebounds and three assists for the 76ers.
The Pacers have lost four of five after a three-game winning streak.
TRAIL BLAZERS 97, PISTONS 93
Martell Webster scored a career-high 28 points to help visiting Portland beat Detroit.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points, and Andre Miller added 11 points and 13 assists as Portland earned a split of a four-game trip despite using just eight players.
HEAT 115, KINGS 84
Dwyane Wade had 27 points and eight assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, Michael Beasley added 21 points and 13 rebounds and host Miami beat Sacramento.
Udonis Haslem scored 14 points and Jermaine O'Neal added 12 for the Heat.
SUNS 112, WARRIORS 103
Goran Dragic scored 18 of his career-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and Steve Nash scored 23 for host Phoenix.
Corey Maggette led Golden State with 27 points. Anthony Tolliver had career bests of 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, playing without Monta Ellis (sprained right ankle).
BULLS 104, ROCKETS 97
Brad Miller scored 25 points in place of the injured Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson had 16 points and 14 rebounds for visiting Chicago. Derrick Rose added 20 points for the Bulls, 6-2 in their last eight.
Noah was a last-minute scratch for the Bulls because of a left foot injury.
BUCKS 127, TIMBERWOLVES 94
Carlos Delfino scored 24 points, and rookie Brandon Jennings had 18 points and a career-high 13 assists for host Milwaukee.
Rookie Jonny Flynn led Minnesota with 20 points. The Timberwolves have lost seven of eight and 12 of 14.
JAZZ 116, NETS 83
Mehmet Okur had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and host Utah dropped New Jersey to 0-18 against the Western Conference and 3-40 overall.
Carlos Boozer had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Ronnie Brewer added 15 points for Utah.
Suns: Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa will have surgery to remove a cyst on his right wrist and is expected to be sidelined for about a month.
Barbosa had the cyst drained in November but it returned and had been bothering him for the past two weeks.
Barbosa, the NBA's sixth man of the year in 2006-07, is averaging 10.7 points per game.