Tue, Feb 03, 2004 - Page 19 News List

James gets into the groove

AP , WASHINGTON

LeBron James was in a Michael Jordan-like groove on Sunday, scoring a career-high 38 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 104-100 victory over the Washington Wizards.

"I wear No. 23 for a reason," said James, who scored 19 points in the third quarter. "So I guess that's what he felt like when he used to heat up."

James also got his first NBA technical foul when he tossed his headband into the crowd following a no-call. But that was easy to accept because the Cavaliers got their 18th victory -- surpassing their win total from last season.

"I was pulling for him to get that 40," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "Because I know once it's in his mind, then he's thinking about 40, and that's good. Your scorers should be thinking about scoring. I want him to get 40 so he can carry us for the next three games."

Both the Cavaliers and Wizards are trying to reverse multiyear losing trends, and Cleveland is finding it much easier to do with James, the No. 1 overall draft pick. Washington coach Eddie Jordan was particularly critical of his team following the game, saying his players didn't match their opponents' hard work and grit.

"We're trying to change a losing culture here, and it's not easy," Jordan said. "We're taking baby steps. We're having setbacks, and we're going to keep plugging it."

Jordan said change is needed "everywhere" in a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game in 16 years.

"The people have to change, or you have to change the people," he said.

James' line in the box score was a mouthful. He went 14-for-27 from the field, 9-for-11 from the free-throw line and had six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and six turnovers. He also committed three offensive fouls, and the talk of both locker rooms concerned the calls he did and didn't get.

"This is a man's league, and sometimes you ain't going to get the foul," Silas said. "I know we've got a teenager playing in it, but, hey, you see his body and you'll think he's a man."

Carlos Boozer's game was nearly as impressive as James'. Boozer had 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Cavaliers, who improved to 5-20 on the road and have won six of eight. Cleveland won despite committing 24 turnovers.

Rookie Jarvis Hayes scored 20 points to lead the Wizards, who fell to 2-3 in a seven-game homestand.

Washington's Jerry Stackhouse, activated from the injured list, scored 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting -- including a pair of air balls -- in his first game this season. Stackhouse had knee surgery Oct. 21.

The Cavaliers were unable to return home because of mechanical problems with the team plane. Spokesman Tad Carper in Cleveland said the team would practice Monday in Washington then fly to Detroit for its game Tuesday night the Pistons.

Lakers 84, Raptors 83

At Toronto, Shaquille O'Neal scored 36 points to help Los Angeles Lakers win at the start its longest road trip in 12 years -- seven games in 11 days.

Vince Carter had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Rick Fox and Gary Payton converged on him as he drove to the basket. Carter threw up the ball, thinking he had been fouled. But there was no call.

O'Neal also didn't agree with some calls down the stretch.

Carter had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors.

Timberwolves 106, 76ers 101

At Minneapolis, Kevin Garnett had 32 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to help the Timberwolves rally from an 18-point deficit in their biggest comeback of the season.

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