LOS ANGELES -- A 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter isn't always insurmountable when LeBron James is on the court.
James recorded his second successive triple-double with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, Mo Williams hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds to play, and the Cavaliers stormed past the Los Angeles Clippers for a stunning 87-83 victory on Tuesday night.
James notched his 22nd career triple-double, scoring his final 10 points in the frenetic fourth quarter and recording his 800th career steal. The Cavaliers' 11th victory in 13 games increased their lead on Boston in the Eastern Conference to 1½ games.
"This is a gut-check win for us and we needed it," James said. "You want to try and win as many games as possible, especially when you see the battle with what is going on with us and Boston and the Lakers and Orlando also trying to establish home court."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland. Williams was held to 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting, but capped the comeback with his clutch 3-point shot. He came in averaging 18.0 points.
"One thing about Mo, he never thinks about the last shot he missed or the last one he made. He gets right back," James said. "He missed shot after shot after shot, but you know if he gets a good look at it in crunch time, he's going to nail it."
The Cavs, who came in holding opponents to a league-best 90.5 points per game, are now 27-2 when their opponent scores fewer than 90. They were 0-for-17 from behind the arc before Daniel Gibson ended the drought with 5:02 remaining to trigger a game-ending 18-7 run.
The Cavaliers joined the Lakers in the 50-win column and won for the 15th time in 19th games, a stretch that began with a 112-95 victory against the Clippers on Jan. 30. Cleveland's 22nd road victory tied a franchise record set in 1991-92.
An unofficial stat the Cavaliers have been keeping this season on James is chasedowns -- breakaway layups by opposing players that James hustles upcourt to swat away from behind at the last instant. James recorded his 17th such rejection, denying Baron Davis with 6:49 left in the first quarter after Davis intercepted his errant pass and bolted with it.
Al Thornton and Zach Randolph each had 20 points for the Clippers. They used their 30th different starting lineup, with center Chris Kaman returning to action after missing 48 games because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
It was only the second time Kaman and Randolph started in a game together for the Clippers, and the first since Nov. 26 -- when Randolph played his first game with them following his acquisition from the New York Knicks. The Clippers were 13-35 in Kaman's absence.
Marcus Camby also was back in the lineup after missing a 106-105 loss to Indiana on Saturday because of migraines, which the club believes were caused by fluid from a previous ear infection that occurred on a team flight back to Los Angeles from Charlotte last month.
"I probably played the guys who were out due to injury a little too much, and it showed that they were unconditioned," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It is disappointing to play as well as we did in the first three quarters and not finish the game strong."
Playing before their third sellout crowd and first against someone other than the Lakers, the Clippers led 48-34 at halftime. They took their biggest lead, 65-46, on Davis' 18-footer with 3:51 left in the third quarter. "We weren't playing Cavaliers basketball in the first half," James said. "We had a lot of uncharacteristic plays defensively and offensively. I got the group rallied in the middle before the second half and just let them know we needed to play better basketball if we were going to have a chance to win. We can't think we can turn it on and off whenever we want to -- even though we did that tonight."
Thornton, who got the assignment to guard James, held last season's NBA scoring champ to one field goal on five shots in the first 22 minutes. James made two tough layups in the final two minutes of the half with Kaman defending him and converted the second one into a three-point play, but blew an attempted slam dunk with 30 seconds on the clock after grabbing an offensive rebound.
The five-time All-Star, who had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists Saturday in a 99-89 victory against Miami, missed his first three shots before throwing down a demonstrative dunk with 0.8 seconds left in the first quarter to trim the Clippers' lead to 24-17.
|LeBron raises his game in the fourth to help the Cavs overcome a 19-point deficit. (Getty Images)|
|Cleveland (50-13) «||17||17||18||35||87|
|L.A. Clippers (15-49)||24||24||21||14||83|
|CLE:L. James 32 Pts
CLE:L. James 13 Reb
CLE:L. James 11 Ast
|LAC:Z. Randolph 20 Pts
LAC:Z. Randolph 12 Reb
LAC:B. Davis 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|L. James, SF||44||10-23||12-16||13||11||2||32|
|M. Williams, PG||40||4-17||4-5||4||1||3||14|
|A. Varejao, C||36||4-7||0-0||10||0||3||8|
|Z. Ilgauskas, C||30||6-15||4-4||8||0||1||16|
|D. West, SG||27||1-6||0-0||1||2||0||2|
|D. Gibson, PG||24||2-6||0-0||2||2||2||5|
|J. Smith, PF||17||3-3||0-0||2||0||3||6|
|W. Szczerbiak, SF||10||2-4||0-0||1||0||0||4|
|S. Pavlovic, SG||7||0-0||0-0||2||0||2||0|
|J. Hickson, PF||5||0-1||0-0||3||0||2||0|
|E. Snow, PG||Did Not Play|
|B. Wallace, C||Did Not Play|
|L. Wright, C||Did Not Play|
|T. Kinsey, SF||Did Not Play|
|D. Jackson, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Thornton, SF||40||8-15||3-5||9||0||2||20|
|E. Gordon, SG||39||4-10||6-6||5||3||2||14|
|Z. Randolph, PF||36||7-16||5-8||12||6||3||20|
|B. Davis, PG||34||5-12||2-2||3||6||1||12|
|C. Kaman, C||30||3-11||0-0||4||2||5||6|
|M. Camby, C||26||2-4||4-4||7||1||3||8|
|F. Jones, SG||14||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|M. Taylor, PG||14||0-4||0-0||0||2||2||0|
|S. Novak, SF||7||1-3||0-0||1||0||0||3|
|R. Davis, SG||Did Not Play|
|B. Skinner, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Acker, G||Did Not Play|
|M. Collins, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Jordan, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|