CLEVELAND -- Right now, they're the cream of the NBA's Eastern -- or Leastern -- Conference.
And the Cleveland Cavaliers intend to stay that way.
Larry Hughes scored 25 points, LeBron James flirted with his first triple-double this season, and the now healthy Cavaliers coasted to a 106-84 win over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.
At 14-8, the Cavaliers' .636 winning percentage is tops among the East's 15 teams. They're also 8-2 with their opening-day lineup, which was without Hughes for 10 games and minus Drew Gooden for two.
"We know how good we can be," Hughes said. "We've just got to keep it going."
Hughes, making his second straight start after missing three weeks with a sprained ankle, went 11-of-16 from the floor. The Cavaliers shot a blistering 65 percent in the first half, doing whatever they wanted against the Sonics, who hardly bothered playing defense.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17 points and Anderson Varejao 13 rebounds as the Cavaliers improved to 11-2 at home and 22-2 in Quicken Loans Arena since March 5.
"We came ready to play, and the stats show it," coach Mike Brown said.
Leading by 19 at halftime, the Cavs went nearly five minutes without scoring in the third quarter before using a 12-3 spurt to push their lead to 78-56. Donyell Marshall's 3-pointer put the Cavs ahead 85-61 entering the fourth.
By then, James, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, was already pulling on his warmups and spent the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter cheering for Cleveland's reserves from the bench.
The Cavs' backups briefly had their way with the Sonics, opening a 26-point lead before Seattle closed to 15 with 5:01 remaining. That's when Brown put James and Hughes back in to close it out.
Chris Wilcox scored 20 points to lead Seattle, which dropped its third straight on a five-game trip. Rookie Mickael Gelabale added a season-high 16 and Rashard Lewis had 10 -- 12 below his average -- on 3-of-12 shooting.
The 6-foot-10 Lewis was hounded by Eric Snow, who was giving up seven inches but made up for his lack of size with grit.
"He steps up and does it night in and night out," Brown said. "He doesn't get the credit that he should in terms of being recognized for an all-defensive team. He did a terrific job."
The Sonics were without guard Ray Allen, who missed his sixth game in a row with a bone bruise in his right foot. Allen isn't traveling with the team but is expected to be back on the floor in a week.
Seattle needs its top scorer ASAP.
"We can't come out like that and expect to win," Sonics forward Damien Wilkins said. "It's a matter of coming out and playing hard and wanting it - with our without Ray."
The Cavaliers played perhaps their finest 24 minutes of the season in the first half, shooting 27-of-42 from the field and dishing out 19 assists while pushing to a 64-45 lead.
Hughes made his first eight shots before missing a jumper with 3:05 remaining before halftime. He finished with 18 points while James, who started 6-for-6 from the field, added 15 in Cleveland's highest-scoring half this season.
Less than three minutes into the game, James, who hasn't had a triple-double in the regular season since March 22, already had two points, four rebounds and three assists.
By the end of the first quarter, he had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Cavaliers shot 70 percent (16-of-23) and opened a 35-28 lead.
Sonics rookie Andreas Glyniadakis made his first career start in place of Wilcox, who had started each of Seattle's first 23 games. Glyniadakis had played just 34 minutes all season coming in.
The Cavs will play at Orlando on Saturday in a matchup of the East's top two teams. ... James continues to insist he isn't tired, but his numbers are down slightly from last year. There was concern that he may not have gotten enough rest this summer when he played for the U.S. team at the world championships. "It can wear on you a little bit," James said of the 82-game schedule. "But you have to get through it." ... The Sonics are the league's most well-behaved squad. When Wilkins was called for a technical on Tuesday in Milwaukee, it was the first one assessed to a Seattle player this season. On the flip side, New Orleans entered the weekend with 18 Ts. ... Cleveland's starting lineup of James, Hughes, Ilgauskas, Eric Snow and Drew Gooden is 26-12 since the start of last season.
|Cleveland (14-8) «||35||29||21||21||106|
|SEA:C. Wilcox 20 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 12 Reb
SEA:E. Watson 6 Ast
|CLE:L. Hughes 25 Pts
CLE:A. Varejao 13 Reb
CLE:L. James 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|D. Wilkins, SF||30||3-9||0-1||1||2||4||8|
|C. Wilcox, PF||29||7-14||6-6||7||0||1||20|
|L. Ridnour, PG||26||1-7||0-1||1||1||0||2|
|R. Lewis, SF||25||3-12||4-4||2||4||3||10|
|A. Glyniadakis, C||10||2-3||0-0||1||0||1||4|
|M. Gelabale, SF||30||4-5||8-8||8||0||2||16|
|N. Collison, C||27||4-9||0-0||12||1||1||8|
|E. Watson, PG||26||4-12||0-0||1||6||2||10|
|J. Petro, C||25||3-9||0-0||5||0||5||6|
|M. Wilks, PG||4||0-2||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|D. Farmer, G||3||0-2||0-0||1||2||0||0|
|M. Sene, C||2||0-1||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|R. Allen, SG||Did Not Play|
|D. Fortson, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. Swift, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|L. James, SF||34||9-14||2-3||9||7||3||22|
|L. Hughes, SG||32||11-16||2-2||3||3||2||25|
|E. Snow, PG||31||2-4||0-0||4||5||2||4|
|Z. Ilgauskas, C||27||7-14||3-3||4||3||2||17|
|D. Gooden, PF||19||4-6||0-0||4||0||4||8|
|A. Varejao, PF||31||3-7||3-4||13||1||2||9|
|D. Jones, PG||19||3-6||0-0||1||3||0||7|
|D. Marshall, PF||17||3-8||0-0||4||2||0||8|
|D. Gibson, PG||14||2-4||0-0||2||2||0||4|
|S. Pavlovic, SF||8||1-2||0-1||0||1||1||2|
|D. Wesley, SG||6||0-1||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|I. Newble, SF||3||0-1||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|S. Pollard, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Jones, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Brown, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|