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Cleveland at Minnesota

LeBron takes over late, scores 45 in leading Cleveland past Minnesota

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With his defending Eastern Conference champions looking rather ordinary so far this season, LeBron James has decided to take matters into his own hands.

Barely breaking a sweat, James had 45 points, eight rebounds and five assists to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 97-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

It's been a breathtaking four-game stretch for King James, who topped 40 points for the second time in three games and is averaging 39.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists in the previous four to get the Cavs (6-6) back to .500.

"I don't know how he keeps doing what he does," coach Mike Brown said. "I'm watching him, and I get exhausted. That's how good it is to be able to do that night after night after night."

Drew Gooden added 17 points and nine rebounds and Dwayne Jones chipped in 10 rebounds off the bench for Cleveland, but this was the LeBron Show from start to finish.

"I wasn't forcing anything," James said. "I was just taking what was there."

James was on a roll from the start, scoring 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting in the first quarter to help the Cavs take an early lead. He added 17 more in the fourth to keep the Wolves at bay, dropping them to 1-8 to start the season.

"We've got guys (who), when we get punched in the mouth, we quit, we stop playing," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "Whether it hits or doesn't hit, we have to throw something back."

Al Jefferson had 30 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who threatened in the fourth quarter before James put the game away with a stunning two-minute haymaker.

"He knows when he needs to step up and do his thing," Brown said. "And he did it tonight."

With the Cavs clinging to a six-point lead, James scored 10 straight points. He hit two long 3-pointers and then had a steal and soaring dunk to punctuate his evening and help Cleveland avoid falling into what he called "a trap game."

"That pretty much put the nail in the coffin," James said.

In what has become a recurring theme for the young Wolves this season, they were outshot at the free-throw line by an enormous margin, 33-13.

They sorely miss point guard Randy Foye, who will be out at least another three weeks with a knee injury. With backup Sebastian Telfair in New York for his grandmother's funeral, Wittman had to turn to veterans Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric to be the primary ball-handlers.

The result was another stagnant offensive performance in which the Wolves had difficulty running their sets and getting good looks at the basket, especially in the fourth quarter.

"Teams make a run, we get in the habit of putting our heads down instead of keep fighting," Jefferson said.

Notes

  • Mark Madsen, who has missed the first seven games after having offseason shoulder surgery because of an accident on a personal watercraft, played for the first time on Wednesday night. He entered the game with 4:40 to go in the first quarter and finished with three rebounds in 13 minutes.
  • Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was in attendance and received a standing ovation in the fourth quarter.
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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LeBron carries the Cavs on his back with a 45-point, eight-rebound, five-assist outing against Minny.  (AP)
LeBron carries the Cavs on his back with a 45-point, eight-rebound, five-assist outing against Minny. (AP)
Scoreboard
Cleveland (6-6) «2422262597
Minnesota (1-8) 2517222286
CLE:L. James 45 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 10 Reb
CLE:L. James 5 Ast
MIN:A. Jefferson 30 Pts
MIN:A. Jefferson 8 Reb
MIN:G. Buckner 4 Ast
Players of the Game
MinnesotaCleveland

A. Jefferson

L. James
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
30804585

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Cleveland
L. James, SF3917-265-885245
D. Gooden, PF386-135-790317
D. Gibson, PG343-75-515011
Z. Ilgauskas, C333-63-410059
S. Pavlovic, SG191-43-41145
D. Jones, PF242-30-210124
D. Brown, SG222-82-30116
D. Jones, PG180-30-02000
E. Snow, PG130-20-01220
I. Newble, SF20-10-00000
D. Marshall, PFDid Not Play
L. Hughes, SGDid Not Play
S. Brown, PGDid Not Play
C. Simmons, SFDid Not Play
D. Nichols, SFDid Not Play
Totals 34-7323-3342151997
 46.6%69.7% 
Minnesota
A. Jefferson, PF4012-206-680230
M. Jaric, SF254-101-13339
R. Gomes, PF233-60-02426
R. McCants, SG235-160-043111
M. Doleac, C190-00-04110
G. Buckner, SG270-20-02430
A. Walker, SF255-140-253113
G. Green, SG206-81-232213
C. Brewer, SF142-20-21024
M. Madsen, PF130-00-03020
C. Smith, PF80-20-01020
C. Richard, PF20-10-01010
T. Ratliff, CDid Not Play
S. Telfair, PGDid Not Play
R. Foye, PGDid Not Play
Totals 37-818-1337202286
 45.7%61.5% 
Other Games
Wash 114 Final
Char 111
GS 82 Final
Bos 105
Dal 100 Final
Hou 94
Atl 82 Final
Mia 79
Ind 105 Final
NO 93
NY 86 Final
Det 98
LAL 103 Final
Mil 110
Tor 95 Final
Mem 89
Orl 110 Final
SA 128
Sac 111 Final
Pho 127
NJ 106 Final
Port 101
Den 90 Final
LAC 101