James scored 34 of his 40 points in the second half, and stripped former teammate Carlos Boozer in the final seconds Friday night to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 99-94 victory over Utah, ending a five-game winning streak by the Jazz.
James, playing as he did while leading the Cavs to their first NBA Finals last season, did it all.
He just missed his second straight triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks. He made 13 of 15 free throws, including four straight in the final 3.8 seconds as the Cavs sealed it.
"He took over," Utah's Deron Williams said. "He's one of those special players, who once he gets going, you can't stop him."
James, who had 16 points in the third and 18 in the fourth, either scored or assisted on 15 of Cleveland's 19 baskets in the second half. He tied Walt Wesley's 1971 team record for most points in a half.
"He was pretty good," Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas deadpanned.
Offensive fireworks aside, James' biggest play was a block with 12.8 seconds left on Boozer, who is still regarded as a villain by Cleveland fans for reneging on a promise to sign a contract with the Cavs and leaving as a free agent in 2004.
Cleveland, which led by seven with two minutes left, was only up 94-92 when Boozer got the ball on the low block. But as he began to spin in the lane and go up, James swooped in from behind and swatted the ball away with his left hand.
"He was wide open," James said of Boozer. "He didn't see me coming from the weak side and I was able to strip the ball."
James was surprised to learn the play was officially ruled a block and not a steal.
"That's OK," said James, who had 39 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists earlier this week in a loss to Orlando. "I'll take it."
After losing the ball, Boozer jumped in the air and screamed at officials about the no-call. Utah's All-Star forward then had words with James as they walked slowly to the other end of the floor.
"The ref said he (James) got the ball," Boozer said. "I was trying to say, 'He got me.' I guess it was a good play on his part. He came over and stripped the ball. That's what the refs saw, and that's what it was."
James was fouled, and Cleveland's superstar, who has struggled with his free-throw shooting, made both attempts to put the Cavs up by three. Utah had a chance to tie it, but Mehmet Okur missed a 3-pointer with two seconds to go, James grabbed his 10th rebound and made two more foul shots to make it 99-94.
After the final horn, James and Boozer stood underneath the basket, hugged and spoke for several moments before leaving the court.
"That's my guy," James said. "I love him. We had a great year and were starting to do some great things. I know the fans may not see it that way, but I have no hard feelings for Booze."
Ilgauskas had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who held the NBA's highest-scoring team to 15 points less than its average.
Boozer, booed every time he touched the ball, led Utah with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
He expected another unfriendly welcome from Cavs fans, and that's exactly what he got. Boozer missed two previous trips to Cleveland because of injuries before facing the Cavaliers here for the first time last season.
"It wasn't anywhere close to the reaction I got last year," he said. "They have great fans and they were trying to distract me a little bit. It's all part of sports, it's all fun and games."
With the Cavs down by seven early in the fourth, James moved to point guard and immediately turned things around.
First, he drove for a left-handed layup to get Cleveland within five, then whipped a cross-court pass through traffic to Damon Jones, whose 3-pointer -- the Cavs missed their first eight 3s -- made it 75-73.
On Cleveland's next possession, James fumbled the ball away on a drive, but before the ball bounced out, he leaped over the baseline to make a one-handed save, and in one motion, slapped a bounce pass into the far corner, where Jones knocked down another 3-pointer to put the Cavs ahead 76-75.
"LeBron continues to refuse to let us lose," Cavs coach Mike Brown said.
- Cavs G Larry Hughes will miss at least four weeks with a deep bone bruise in his leg. Sasha Pavlovic started in his place scored 12 points in 27 minutes.
- Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is 31-19 in 50 career games coaching against the Cavaliers.
- Jazz F Matt Harpring played 14 minutes after missing one game with the stomach flu.
- Ilgauskas had a season-high six blocks.