CLEVELAND -- This herd of Bulls got run over and over and over.
Once LeBron James decided he was going to the basket, there wasn't anything Chicago's defense could do to stop him. It's not like they didn't try.
Muscling inside at will and blasting to the rim almost every time he touched the ball, James scored a season-high 41 points -- 15 on free throws -- with ease and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-93 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
"LeBron is LeBron," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We tried all kinds of different things with him. When he gets around the basket, he's so powerful."
James, who briefly left the floor in the first quarter after twisting his left ankle, missed just once from the line. In his past two games, James, who has struggled with his touch from 15 feet throughout his career, has made 28 of 31 free throws after going 15 of 24 in the season's first three games.
His free-throw shooting has been mediocre and the one major flaw in James' game. Now that he's dropping the freebies, he's an even greater scoring threat.
"I've been dangerous and I've only been shooting like 60 percent from the line in my career," he said, chuckling. "I just have to continue to go up there and make them. It's all about concentration. Once you get a rhythm, you've got to stick with it. I just have to stick with the routine."
While engaging in some friendly trash talk with former teammate Drew Gooden, James scored 14 points -- most of them inside -- in the third quarter, highlighted by a reverse layup he spun in off the glass right-handed while driving to his left. Over the final 5:05 of the quarter, James had a hand in all 18 of Cleveland's points, scoring 10 with three assists.
James added nine rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes. He arrived at the game wearing a T-shirt with president-elect Barack Obama's likeness on it and was asked if he would consider a future in politics, perhaps as the mayor of Akron, his hometown.
"Mayor of Akron?" he said. "I'm already mayor of Akron. I've been that for about 10 years now."
Ilgauskas made his sixth career 3-pointer, Ben Wallace had 14 rebounds without scoring and Delonte West had 16 points for the Cavs, who didn't put it away until the final minutes.
In his past games, Wallace has 27 rebounds and not a single point.
"He's been an animal on the boards," Cavs coach Mike Brown said.
The Cavs led by 12 entering the fourth, but with James on the bench, the Bulls made their move.
Gordon made two jumpers and scored seven points to pull Chicago within 90-83 with 6:54 left, prompting Cavs coach Mike Brown to send James back in.
It didn't take him long to make a difference.
Following a wild scramble for a loose ball near mid-court, James drove to the basket and was fouled by Gooden while hitting a layup. He dropped his free throw to complete the three-point play, giving the Cavs a 10-point lead and breathing room. James then hit a short jumper and tipped in his own miss to make it 97-83 with 3:08 left.
"That's me," James said. "When it's time for me to go out and close a game, that's what I'm capable of doing."
For Rose, like James a No. 1 overall pick, it was his first up-close look at Cleveland's megastar.
"He's an amazing player," said Rose, who added seven assists. "I've watched him on television so many times. We could have done a better job guarding him. We should have made him take jump shots instead of going to the hole."
James rolled his left ankle late in the first when he landed on Kirk Hinrich's foot following a dunk.
After the game, Brown was asked for an injury update on James' ankle.
"It's good," Brown said, glancing at the boxscore. "It's 41 (points) good."
The Cavaliers closed the first half with a 10-2 spurt, triggered by Ilgauskas' first 3-pointer since Jan. 22, 2005.
Cleveland's big man grabbed a pass from James on the right side in front of Cleveland's bench and calmly set his feet before draining the long-range shot. The 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas is 6-for-38 in his career from beyond the arc.
|A twisted left ankle doesn't prevent LeBron James from scoring a season-high 41 points. (AP)|
|Cleveland (3-2) «||30||27||26||24||107|
|CHI:B. Gordon 31 Pts
CHI:D. Gooden 9 Reb
CHI:D. Rose 7 Ast
|CLE:L. James 41 Pts
CLE:B. Wallace 14 Reb
CLE:L. James 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|L. Deng, SF||40||7-15||2-2||7||0||1||18|
|D. Rose, PG||39||7-16||5-6||0||7||1||20|
|D. Gooden, PF||37||4-13||3-4||9||1||4||11|
|T. Sefolosha, SG||18||0-4||0-0||4||4||2||0|
|T. Thomas, PF||15||0-1||1-2||3||0||2||1|
|B. Gordon, SG||31||11-19||4-5||3||5||1||31|
|A. Nocioni, SF||26||1-4||4-4||5||1||3||6|
|K. Hinrich, PG||21||0-5||2-2||1||2||3||2|
|J. Noah, PF||9||1-2||2-2||1||1||3||4|
|A. Gray, C||4||0-0||0-0||2||0||1||0|
|L. Hughes, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ruffin, C||Did Not Play|
|C. Simmons, SF||Did Not Play|
|D. Nichols, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|D. West, SG||37||6-12||1-1||3||3||3||16|
|L. James, SF||36||13-23||15-16||9||6||1||41|
|M. Williams, PG||33||5-11||2-2||0||4||2||13|
|B. Wallace, C||29||0-2||0-0||14||0||2||0|
|Z. Ilgauskas, C||24||6-16||2-2||10||0||3||15|
|A. Varejao, C||28||3-3||3-4||2||2||4||9|
|D. Gibson, PG||24||0-6||1-2||4||0||4||1|
|W. Szczerbiak, SF||22||2-6||4-5||2||2||0||8|
|S. Pavlovic, SG||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|J. Hickson, PF||2||2-2||0-1||1||0||1||4|
|L. Wright, C||1||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|T. Kinsey, SF||1||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|E. Snow, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Williams, F||Did Not Play|
|D. Jackson, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|