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Chicago at Cleveland

LeBron sticks around 'til finish as Cavs rout Bulls

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CLEVELAND -- LeBron James left the floor early again. He didn't have to explain himself this time.

James, accused of quitting on the Cavaliers by walking off the court too early in his previous game, scored 19 points and had a season-high 12 assists to lead Cleveland past the Chicago Bulls 113-94 on Thursday night.

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 bench went 21-of-30 from the field and helped Cleveland bounce back from an overtime loss on Tuesday to the Atlanta Hawks.

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. 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 on offense like we did in the past. It was flowing like water."

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 Andres 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."

Cleveland's three wins have come against Washington, San Antonio and Chicago -- three playoff teams from last season. Their two losses are to Atlanta and Charlotte, not exactly among the league's elite.

With expectations soaring, James knows the Cavaliers can't afford to take any opponent lightly.

"It's tough but we have to figure out how to do that," James said. "I think this team will."

Leading by 13 at half, the Cavaliers made 8-of-12 field goal attempts to start the third and opened 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."

Coming off an inexcusable overtime loss to the Hawks, in which they missed 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and OT, the Cavaliers started strong and built a 12-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

Then, with a lineup of Pavlovic, Donyell Marshall, Eric Snow, Gooden and James -- a group that hadn't played together all season -- Cleveland extended its lead to 18 points before the Bulls pulled within 52-39 at halftime.

Notes

  • The Bulls have lost five straight to Cleveland.
  • Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller, perhaps the greatest women's player in history, said the uproar about James' perceived walk-off was absurd. "It's ridiculous," said Miller, a sideline reporter for TNT. "You don't put 'quit' and LeBron in the same sentence."
  • Marshall, who went over the 10,000-point plateau on Tuesday, joined Clifford Robinson, Sam Perkins and Scottie Pippen as the only NBA players to get at least 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 750 3-pointers and 750 blocks. Marshall is in his 13th season. The other three played 17 seasons apiece.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Cleveland coach Mike Brown shows LeBron James the exit, but the All-Star doesn't budge this time.  (AP)
Cleveland coach Mike Brown shows LeBron James the exit, but the All-Star doesn't budge this time. (AP)

Scoreboard
Chicago (2-3) 1821292694
Cleveland (3-2) «30222833113
CHI:K. Hinrich 20 Pts
CHI:P. Brown 6 Reb
CHI:K. Hinrich 11 Ast
CLE:D. Gooden 20 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 9 Reb
CLE:L. James 12 Ast
Players of the Game
ClevelandChicago

L. James

K. Hinrich
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
1941220211
Chicago
K. Hinrich, PG408-131-1211120
L. Deng, SF305-111-221111
B. Wallace, C280-22-25112
P. Brown, C265-121-160211
B. Gordon, SG231-100-02322
A. Nocioni, SF227-120-012415
T. Sefolosha, SG222-71-24326
C. Duhon, PG163-50-00508
T. Thomas, PF114-91-23009
M. Allen, PF103-60-02116
A. Griffin, SF62-20-02004
V. Khryapa, SF60-20-01010
M. Sweetney, PFDid Not Play
A. Barrett, PGDid Not Play
M. Andriuskevicius, CDid Not Play
Totals 40-917-1030271594
 44.0%70.0% 
Cleveland
L. James, SF386-137-8412019
L. Hughes, SG283-80-03628
E. Snow, PG251-40-03512
D. Gooden, PF2510-130-093320
Z. Ilgauskas, C214-110-09138
S. Pavlovic, SF256-92-262216
D. Jones, PG243-40-01217
D. Marshall, PF235-72-232215
A. Varejao, PF236-73-472415
S. Brown, SG51-30-01202
D. Wesley, SG40-01-21111
S. Pollard, CDid Not Play
I. Newble, SFDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
D. Gibson, PGDid Not Play
Totals 45-7915-18473819113
 57.0%83.3% 
Other Games
Dal 119 Final
Pho 112
NO 116 Final
GS 121