James had 30 points and 11 rebounds, and the Cavaliers won their ninth straight, beating the New Jersey Nets 96-88 on Sunday night to tie a franchise record with their 57th victory.
Ilgauskas added 18 points as the Cavaliers improved the NBA's best record to 57-13. He had four blocks and passed John "Hot Rod" Williams (1,200) as the Cavs' career leader with 1,202. He already became Cleveland's top rebounder earlier this season.
"These things are always nice, but especially when the team is doing well," said Ilgauskas, who arrived in 1996. "If you're on a bad team, you can't enjoy it as much, and this so far has been a special season. A lot of records have fallen."
The Cavs weren't especially sharp while playing their second game in two days, but now get some time off before they play host to the Nets on Wednesday in the back end of a home-and-home series. A victory in that one would give Cleveland its second double-digit winning streak this season.
It would also make the Cavs the winningest team in their history. Cleveland went 57-25 in both 1988-89 and 1991-92.
"It's not the main goal, but any time you get an opportunity to write your name or write your team into the record books, you should be proud," James said.
"I think the franchise, the team, the coaches, everybody, everybody that's associated with the Cavaliers -- people that work the concession stands -- everybody, we should all be proud about this," James added. "Because it's not promised every year where you get a chance to set records, franchise records, or winning divisions, things like that. Great achievement by us."
Vince Carter had 25 points and nine rebounds, but without injured All-Star point guard Devin Harris the Nets simply lacked the firepower to hang with the NBA's toughest defensive team. New Jersey had its two-game winning streak snapped and fell two games behind Chicago for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
"It's tough. As bad as our shooting was, we still had an opportunity to get back into the game," Carter said. "We got it down to two points but missed some easy layups, i.e. myself. We had some great looks at some shots, but it was just unfortunate."
James finished two assists shy of a fifth triple-double during the winning streak on a night where he was content to let his big men handle the scoring load early. Anderson Varejao finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, helping Cleveland outrebound New Jersey 46-37.
"He plays at his own pace," the Nets' Jarvis Hayes said of James. "He was getting his teammates involved in the first three quarters and slowly got more engaged in the game offensively. It's tough, he ended up with 30 and it seemed like he was having a quiet night, when he was two assists shy of a triple-double."
New Jersey, which never led, cut a 19-point deficit to eight early in the fourth quarter. James then made back-to-back buckets to restore the double-digit cushion that Cleveland enjoyed most of the game. The Nets got it down to eight again with under 2½ minutes left, but Carter -- who had earlier banked in a shot from inside the foul line while being tripped -- missed on a layup on a baseline drive and the Cavs went on to win for the 26th time in 31 games.
James took only two shots in the first quarter while the Cavs wore down the Nets inside. Varejao and Ilgauskas each scored eight points as Cleveland took a 27-21 lead. The Nets were within two points late in the second period before James made a pair of free throws, then finally made a field goal on a play that showed off his unmatched combination of power and athleticism.
He grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled the ball up the right side of the floor before suddenly cutting into the lane near the free throw line, driving left and dunking it with his right hand while being fouled.
His other first-half field goal pushed the lead back into double digits with 2:12 remaining, and the Cavaliers led 48-38 at the break.
The Cavs scored seven straight to open a 59-40 lead on a jumper by Ilgauskas with 7:45 remaining in the third and led 71-55 after three.
- The Cavaliers won 11 straight in November and December.
- Nets rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts sat out the second half with a stomach virus.
- Nets C Sean Williams was active after completing his two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, but coach Lawrence Frank opted to keep Josh Boone as the backup. Williams was suspended after he was arrested Monday at a cellphone store in a mall in suburban Denver on suspicion of disorderly conduct and felony criminal mischief.