LeBron, Damon Jones Lead Cavs Past Knicks

Tuesday, November 14th 2006, 6:14 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ LeBron James' teammates know they will never be stars as long as they are in Cleveland.

That's just fine with them. They are happy enough being the guys who help the star.

Damon Jones gave the Cavaliers a big lift with 29 points, and James also scored 29 as the Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 102-96 Monday night for their third straight victory.

``LeBron is the face of this franchise,'' Jones said. ``The other guys just come out and play their role. We don't care who scores or who rebounds. At the end of the day, all we want to do is win basketball games.''

Jones kept Cleveland in the game while James was getting off to a quiet start, scoring 24 points in the first half. He finished with seven 3-pointers in what was easily his best game of the season.

``Damon was very big,'' James said. ``He was able to mix in a few jumpers and even got to the hole. He kept them off balance. When D. Jones gets it going, he's probably one of the best shooters in the NBA.''

James scored 19 in the second half, and also set up baskets by Donyell Marshall and Anderson Varejao in the fourth quarter, both after New York had closed within two points.

``I had a good first half and hopefully it opened up some avenues for LeBron in the second half,'' Jones said. ``He did his thing down the stretch, as usual.''

In the other games, Seattle beat New Jersey 119-113, and Orlando defeated Boston 92-89.

Nate Robinson scored 19 points and nearly led the Knicks back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, but New York fell to 0-3 at Madison Square Garden this season. Jamal Crawford had 18 and Channing Frye added 17, ending his horrendous start to the season, but Stephon Marbury was 0-for-6 and finished with two points.

The Knicks led for most of the first half, but Cleveland stayed close behind Jones, who was 7-of-8 in 17 minutes through two quarters. His three free throws gave Cleveland its first lead at 39-38 with 3:18 remaining, and he followed with a 3-pointer for four-point advantage. He was 6-of-7 behind the arc at halftime, helping the Cavs build a 51-47 lead.

``Damon was phenomenal when we were struggling to put the ball in the hole,'' Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. ``He gave us a chance to win the ballgame, shooting the way he did in the first.''

Jones hadn't been a factor at all this season _ his 29 points were two more than he had scored in the first six games. But he ended his early slump by taking advantage of the open room the Knicks left him while they were focusing on James.

``It's tough, because he can shoot so well,'' Robinson said. ``He shoots the ball really good and that's all he does, is shoot, shoot, shoot. We're trying to help out with LeBron, we can't lose guys like that. ``We can't help as much with him on the floor.

James finally heated up midway through the third, making a jumper and following with a steal and bucket about 20 seconds later for a 67-58 lead with 2:36 left in the quarter. He added a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 12 with 2:02 remaining, and the Cavs were up 71-63 heading to the fourth.

Jones hit another 3 to make it 81-67 with under 10 minutes remaining before the Knicks stormed back. New York hit nine of its first 10 shots in the period, getting within 84-82 on Crawford's floater with 6:15 to play.

Marshall then dunked, and when the Knicks got within two again, James found Varejao inside to make it 90-86. New York eventually got within one when Crawford followed his long 3-pointer with a dunk in transition, but Larry Hughes knocked down a jumper with 1:25 left, and after Marbury missed a 3, James pushed the lead to six with three free throws.

``Any time our team gets into a pressure situation, I've got to be able to calm down the crowd,'' James said. ``I was able to do that. It helped us down the stretch.''

Hughes finished with 14 points for the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden.

A first-team All-Rookie selection last season, Frye had been such a disappointment that his eighth point, with 3:20 left first quarter, was already a season high. He entered averaging only 3.4 points on 22 percent shooting.

SuperSonics 119, Nets 113

At East Rutherford, N.J., Luke Ridnour scored a career-high 32 points and Seattle opened a 28-point, first-half lead and then held off a late New Jersey rally.

Rashard Lewis added 27 points, Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox had 22 apiece for the SuperSonics.

Vince Carter had a season-high 38 points, Nenad Krstic added 21 and Jason Kidd had 20 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.

Magic 92, Celtics 89

At Boston, Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, Grant Hill added 18, and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Magic, who have won four of five after starting the season 1-2.