LeBron Scores for Cavs in Win Over Bulls

Friday, November 10th 2006, 6:23 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ They've beaten all the good teams. The Cavaliers next have to master the not-so-good ones. LeBron James, accused of quitting on his teammates by walking off the court too early in a loss earlier this week, scored 19 points with a season-high 12 assists to lead Cleveland to a 113-94 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

With the victory, the Cavaliers improved to 3-0 against Washington, San Antonio and Chicago _ three playoff teams from last season. Cleveland's two losses came against Charlotte and Atlanta, which were a combined 60 games under .500.

James has preached to his teammates all season long about the importance of not taking any opponent lightly. The Cavaliers, who believe they can contend for an NBA title, may be finally getting the message.

``We have to do that,'' James said. ``It's tough but we have to figure out how to do that. We've beat three playoff teams and lost to two non-playoff teams. We have to figure it out and we will.''

Elsewhere around the league, Dallas beat Phoenix 119-112; and Golden State topped New Orleans 121-116.

Drew Gooden added 20 points in three quarters, Anderson Varejao had a career-high 15 and Sasha Pavlovic 16 points in a season-high 25 minutes for the Cavaliers, whose reserves went 21-of-30 from the field and helped Cleveland bounce back from an overtime loss on Tuesday.

Following that game, James took some heat for strolling toward the Cavs' locker room while there was still about 10 seconds left. The Cavaliers were down by nine points at that point, but that didn't seem to matter to critics who felt James should have played hard until the final horn.

Against the Bulls, James took a leisurely walk to Cleveland's bench with 5:12 left and didn't have to explain himself. By then, the Cavs had built a 24-point lead and coach Mike Brown decided to give rookie Shannon Brown some playing time.

``We played well as a team,'' James said. ``We didn't just get stagnant as much as we did in the past. We were able to push the ball up and made things happen from there. We moved around, set screens and made open shots.''

Cleveland recorded 38 assists _ 23 after halftime _ and the NBA's best rebounding team outboarded Chicago 47-30. Oh, and the league's worst free throw-shooting squad went 15-of-18 from the line.

``Thanks for noticing,'' James said. ``It's all about concentration, going up there and shooting the ball.''

Kirk Hinrich had 20 points and 11 assists and Andre Nocioni 15 for Chicago, which trailed by only 12 entering the fourth.

But Cleveland opened the final period with an 11-2 run and pushed its lead to 20 when Pavlovic drained a 3-pointer with 7:17 left. Pavlovic, who had played just eight minutes all season, later fed Varejao underneath for a dunk and the forward's free throw put the Cavs ahead 103-79.

``They pretty much had their way with us,'' Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. ``They went right through our defense and we couldn't get anything going. We couldn't stop any part of their lineup.''

Leading by 13 at the half, the Cavaliers made 8-of-12 field goal attempts to start the third and opened a 69-53 lead when Larry Hughes knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Gooden scored 12 points _ 8 on jump shots _ in the period, helping Cleveland take an 80-68 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Gooden was impressed with Cleveland's reserves, who hadn't made much of an impact in the first four games.

``It makes the game easier when you get that energy off the bench and that's what you need,'' Gooden said. ``The bench was excellent.''

Mavericks 119, Suns 112

In a rematch of last season's Western Conference finals, Dirk Nowitzki scored 35 points, Jason Terry had 30 and Jerry Stackhouse added 23 to help Dallas win at Phoenix.

Leandro Barbosa scored 30 points, Shawn Marion had 21 and Steve Nash added 20 for the Suns, who fell to 1-5 _ their worst start since they dropped 13 in a row to open the 1996-97 season.

Warriors 121, Hornets 116

Baron Davis had 36 points and nine assists against his former club, and host Golden State knocked off the NBA's last unbeaten team.

Monta Ellis scored 21 points and Davis hit five of the Warriors' nine free throws in the final 37 seconds as Golden State scored easily and often against the Hornets' usually impressive defense. Troy Murphy added 20 points for the Warriors.

Chris Paul had a career-high 34 points and 10 assists in another dominant game, but Charlotte _ which won its first four games _ couldn't extend the best start in the franchise's 19-year history.

David West scored 21 points and Peja Stojakovic had 18 at the start of a three-game road stretch for the Hornets.