Seattle at Cleveland

LeBron, Cavs rise above .500 for first time since Nov. 30

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CLEVELAND -- LeBron James could have kicked off his sneakers and relaxed with a soda and popcorn. For a change, the All-Star got to spend the fourth quarter watching like an ordinary fan.

His workday ended earlier than usual.

James showed Seattle's Kevin Durant how it's done by scoring 22 points, and the Cleveland Cavaliers didn't wait until the end to put away the SuperSonics 95-79 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.

James, who scored a franchise-record 24 points in the fourth on Sunday when the Cavs (18-17) rallied for a win in Toronto, was able to sit out the final 8:36 as Cleveland coasted to its sixth win in seven games and moved over .500 for the first time since Nov. 30.

"We came in with the mind-set to get the job done," James said.

Durant scored 24 points and the silky smooth rookie showed off some of his blossoming pro game while being guarded at times by James, who has become close friends with the No. 2 overall pick.

Durant, who didn't score in the first quarter, sprained his left ankle while making a jump shot with 7:31 left. He briefly went to the bench before limping to Seattle's locker room for treatment and did not return.

"It's feeling better," he said. "I tweaked it earlier in the season, so I've kept a brace on it throughout the year. But I still managed to get it hurt a little bit. Hopefully, it will be OK tomorrow."

Daniel Gibson made five 3-pointers and added 17 points, Anderson Varejao had 14 and Sasha Pavlovic 13 for Cleveland.

Wally Szczerbiak scored 15 points and Nick Collison had 14 rebounds for the Sonics, who lost their fourth straight and were missing starting forward Chris Wilcox (dislocated finger).

Although they've been winning lately, the Cavaliers haven't done it with much ease. They struggled to close out victories over Atlanta, Sacramento and Toronto -- all inferior teams -- in the past week, each time relying on James to carry them in the fourth.

But there was no drama this time, as the defending Eastern Conference champs held the Sonics to 33 points in the first half and built an 18-point lead after three quarters. Seattle has dropped seven of eight overall.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was pleased to see his team not let up against an lesser squad.

"There a point and time, if you truly believe you're an elite team, you don't have to say, 'Hey guys, remember, this team is 9-and-whatever they are. We have to come out and play,"' he said. There was no rah-rah speech in there. It was, '1, 2, 3, work hard,' and that was it."

Durant, who scored 12 points in the second quarter, kept the Sonics within striking distance early in the second half, and Seattle pulled within 58-49 when Szczerbiak knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.

James responded with a layup, Gibson hit a 3-pointer and then stole the inbounds pass for a bucket to make it 65-49. Moments later, Gibson, who came in shooting 48 percent on 3s, dropped another long-range jumper to put the Cavaliers ahead 70-51.

"That was a crucial part of the game," Gibson said. "We felt like we needed to get back on track and close out the game."

James and Durant grew close last summer while practicing together with the United States before the Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas. For Durant, it was a thrill to be among the NBA's elite.

"Just to have guys like Carmelo, Kobe and LeBron say "What's up?" to me, I felt big time," he said. "It gave me a boost of confidence."

Because of all he has in common with James, Durant has turned to Cleveland's superstar for advice.

"He's been like a big brother to me," the 19-year-old Durant said. "I'm very fortunate to have a relationship with probably the best player in the world, and I'm going to take advantage of it."

James doesn't mind the mentor role.

"I was in the same position Kevin was coming into the league and trying to be the face of a franchise," he said. "He's having his difficulties in his first year just like I had my difficulties."

The competitiveness between the two stars surfaced on one play in the second quarter. Durant drove the right side and tried a layup high off the glass that James swooped in and blocked but was called for goaltending.

It may have been the right call, but James wouldn't let it go and complained to the officials.

Notes

  • Sonics F Kurt Thomas, who has been playing with a sore knee, was taken out in the third quarter. Coach P.J. Carlesimo wanted to keep him as fresh as possible with a game at New Jersey on Wednesday.
  • In his last nine games, Varejao is averaging 8.7 points and 9.4 rebounds.
  • Like many inner-city kids, James couldn't afford Air Jordans -- the basketball shoe by which all others are measured. This month, Nike is releasing the 23rd edition of Michael Jordan's sneaker, which helped change the sports apparel industry and redefined fashion. "People didn't care about how their shoes looked until Jordans came around," said James, who can thank Jordan's pioneering shoe for his own signature line. James said he tries to keep his shoe affordable without sacrificing quality or technology. "We're conscious of that (price) but we have to put out what's best."
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 (22 points) has a little fun before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.  (AP)
LeBron (22 points) has a little fun before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter. (AP)

Scoreboard
Seattle (9-25) 1518232379
Cleveland (18-17) «2421292195
SEA:K. Durant 24 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 14 Reb
SEA:E. Watson 6 Ast
CLE:L. James 22 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 9 Reb
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 4 Ast
Players of the Game
ClevelandSeattle

L. James

K. Durant
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
22832461
Seattle
N. Collison, C321-60-014212
K. Durant, SF3110-203-361024
K. Thomas, PF234-70-06118
E. Watson, PG231-51-21613
J. Green, SF232-72-31126
W. Szczerbiak, SF345-123-483115
D. West, SG254-111-22539
J. Petro, C252-62-26036
D. Wilkins, SG172-40-01344
M. Gelabale, SF71-10-00002
C. Wilcox, PFDid Not Play
R. Swift, CDid Not Play
L. Ridnour, PGDid Not Play
M. Sene, CDid Not Play
Totals 32-7912-1645221679
 40.5%75.0% 
Cleveland
L. James, SF358-186-683222
D. Gooden, PF251-60-06012
L. Hughes, SG244-111-24229
S. Pavlovic, SG225-102-213413
Z. Ilgauskas, C211-62-29424
A. Varejao, C295-74-690314
D. Gibson, PG256-90-012217
D. Jones, PG241-51-22204
D. Brown, SG201-74-44306
D. Jones, PF60-00-02120
E. Snow, PG40-00-00010
S. Brown, PG42-60-00004
D. Marshall, PFDid Not Play
I. Newble, SFDid Not Play
C. Simmons, SFDid Not Play
Totals 34-8520-2446201995
 40.0%83.3% 
Other Games
Mil 87 Final
Phi 83
Hou 92 Final
Wash 84
NJ 99 Final
Char 115
Mia 91 Final
Min 101
LAL 117 Final
Mem 101
NY 105 Final
Chi 100
Ind 89 Final
Utah 111
Orl 100 Final
Sac 104