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Cleveland at Chicago

LeBron sets team record in first quarter; Bulls too much for Cavs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- All LeBron James wanted to talk about was the dunks and layups the Cleveland Cavaliers allowed, not the dazzling array he produced.

He delivered plenty, but he couldn't deliver a victory.

While James made it look easy early on, tying his team record by scoring 24 of his 34 points in the first quarter, the Chicago Bulls eventually found a clear path to the rim and beat Cleveland 100-95 on Friday night.

The Cavaliers are trying to lock down the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but they stumbled against a team that can only hope for a little lottery luck. With a two-game lead over Washington in the Eastern Conference and a three-game advantage over Philadelphia when the night began, Cleveland saw an eight-point lead after the first quarter turn into a 53-47 halftime deficit.

"We have to get better," James said. "We can't worry about what Washington does, what Philly does. We have to play well. I know how important the postseason is. I've won playoff series. I've won playoff games. I know how important each possession is."

Watching the Bulls score 28 points in the second quarter and 29 in the third made him wince. They drove for layups, they dunked, and they built a big enough lead to withstand a push by Cleveland in the fourth.

Luol Deng led the Bulls with 21 points. Tyrus Thomas added 20 points and 14 rebounds, Joakim Noah chipped in 17 and 11 for Chicago, and both delivered ferocious dunks that left James and coach Mike Brown saying they were embarrassed.

"Something has to change in order for us to go into the playoffs the right way," Brown said.

Chicago led 68-62 before Deng buried a 3-pointer midway through the third, sending the Bulls on a run that extended their lead to 82-65 heading into the fourth. Along the way, Noah delivered two thunderous dunks over Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Thomas added one that drew a primal roar from him and the crowd.

"I think we played well tonight," Noah said. "At the same time, I feel that we both have a long way to go. Potential doesn't win games and that's what matters."

The Cavaliers clearly have a way to go on defense. They ended Wednesday's 104-83 win over New Jersey on a 51-16 run, but that didn't carry over.

"The layups and dunks disappointed me the most tonight," James said. "I'm never disappointed in my teammates. They had four or five dunks in the fourth quarter. It was embarrassing, very embarrassing. It's not good to see that. ... It's just embarrassing."

Early on, James was the one drawing the oohs and aahs.

James, averaging a league-leading 30.2 points before this game, showed no sign of the recent back trouble that caused him to miss practice on Monday and Tuesday. He scored 33 points in a 104-83 win over New Jersey on Wednesday and kept it going against the Bulls, with the sort of theatrics another No. 23 used to perform here on a regular basis.

He made all 10 of his shots in the first quarter as the Cavaliers grabbed a 33-25 lead, dazzling the crowd with dunks and jumpers. By the end of the quarter, he had tied the club record he set in the fourth against Toronto on Jan. 6, when he finished with 39.

"I made shots in our offense," he said. "I didn't make many plays in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, our ball movement was great. That's why I was getting so many shots."

James, who finished 13-for-21 from the field, wowed the crowd midway through the first quarter when he drove up court and past Thomas for a hard dunk, and the acrobatics continued. He drove along the right side for another hard dunk with about two minutes left and went through the lane for a scoop layup with 1:34 remaining. He missed the ensuing free throw, but the Cavaliers got the rebound and James buried a 3-pointer.

The 24 were one shy of Jalen Rose's United Center scoring record for any quarter and tied Michael Redd's mark for points against Chicago in a period. The 10 field goals tied Jamal Crawford's arena record.

He finally missed a 3-pointer 59 seconds into the second quarter and wasn't much of a factor the rest of the way.

Notes

  • James scored a season-high 51 points at Memphis on Jan. 15, and his career-high is 56 at Toronto on March 20, 2005.
  • Bulls F Drew Gooden will miss the remainder of the season because of a lower abdominal strain, interim coach Jim Boylan said. Gooden missed his seventh straight game when the Bulls hosted Cleveland on Friday and will not be available for the final three.
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 nets 24 points in the first quarter but can't steer the Cavs past the Bulls.   (Getty Images)
LeBron nets 24 points in the first quarter but can't steer the Cavs past the Bulls. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Cleveland (43-36) 3314183095
Chicago (31-48) «25282918100
CLE:L. James 34 Pts
CLE:A. Varejao 8 Reb
CLE:D. West 6 Ast
CHI:L. Deng 21 Pts
CHI:T. Thomas 14 Reb
CHI:K. Hinrich 6 Ast
Players of the Game
ChicagoCleveland

T. Thomas

L. James
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
201433462

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Cleveland
D. West, SG425-105-746116
L. James, SF3813-216-1262234
Z. Ilgauskas, C233-126-851312
D. Brown, SG224-82-263311
B. Wallace, C180-10-05010
A. Varejao, C260-20-08430
J. Smith, PF259-162-352320
D. Gibson, PG230-60-01240
W. Szczerbiak, SF191-50-11022
S. Pavlovic, SG30-10-00000
E. Snow, PGDid Not Play
D. Jones, PGDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
L. Allred, CDid Not Play
Totals 35-8221-3341202295
 42.7%63.6% 
Chicago
J. Noah, PF394-79-13111417
T. Thomas, PF359-162-3143520
L. Deng, SF316-146-621521
L. Hughes, SG303-112-42209
K. Hinrich, PG221-50-03652
C. Duhon, PG223-51-22508
B. Gordon, SG216-111-243216
T. Sefolosha, SG190-10-01000
A. Nocioni, SF131-41-14033
A. Gray, C82-30-01034
D. Gooden, PFDid Not Play
S. Brown, PGDid Not Play
C. Simmons, SFDid Not Play
J. Curry, PGDid Not Play
D. Nichols, SFDid Not Play
Totals 35-7722-31442127100
 45.5%71.0% 
Other Games
Min 102 Final
Orl 101
Ind 85 Final
Phi 76
NJ 85 Final
Tor 113
Mil 86 Final
Bos 102
Mem 96 Final
Mia 91
Atl 116 Final
NY 104
Wash 74 Final
Det 102
Pho 90 Final
Hou 101
Sea 74 Final
SA 95
Port 86 Final
Sac 103
NO 104 Final
LAL 107