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Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009

Cavs dismantle Lakers in front of unruly L.A. crowd

LOS ANGELES (AP) The yellow foam hands came flying in from every corner of the lower bowl, sailing onto the court in dozens of frisbee-style arches late in the Cleveland Cavaliers' dominant victory.

News photo
Take it and run: Kobe Bryant of the Lakers heads upcourt after stealing the ball from Cleveland's LeBron James in action on Christmas Day. The Cavaliers won 102-87. AP PHOTO

LeBron James was more worried than amused by this unusual display of frustration from the Los Angeles Lakers' fans — and he got a bit more concerned when at least one water bottle followed the foam.

Despite that bit of surreality in response to the officiating of a physical game, the Cavaliers were hands-down better than the defending NBA champions in a 102-87 victory on Friday night.

"The only thing that you hope doesn't happen is one of the players getting hit or a referee getting hit, especially by a full water bottle," James said. "When that came on the court, it was coming pretty fast. You don't want that to happen because it could definitely hurt somebody. Luckily no one got hurt, and that's a good thing."

The fans were driven to throw up their hands — not the usual foam No. 1 fingers, but a representation of two puppet hands making the "LA" symbol in a tie-in to Nike's LeBron-and-Kobe Bryant marketing campaign — by Lamar Odom's ejection with 4:04 to play. After Bryant received the Lakers' fifth T with 3:45 left, more hands took flight — along with that water bottle.

"I've never seen an L.A. crowd react like this before," said coach Phil Jackson, whose bench drew a second T after Odom's ejection for failing to produce a substitute quickly. "I like their enthusiasm. I don't like their demonstrative manner. . . . It wasn't a well-refereed game, it wasn't a very well-played game, so I think it was a reaction to that."

Mo Williams scored 28 points and James added 26, while Shaquille O'Neal had five dunks among his 11 points in his latest Los Angeles return. The Cavaliers dominated the Lakers with sharp shooting and physical defense, prompting several technical fouls and retaliation hits — and that was before the crowd lost its holiday spirit by returning their pre-game presents.

"If you want to throw something, at least throw something that isn't going to hurt," Bryant said. "So I guess that (foam) was the best situation."

Nineteen seconds after the first incident, a water bottle skittered between players without hitting anyone. Cleveland coach Mike Brown said he saw another bottle in flight.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future with the NBA, where that can't take place," Brown said.

"I don't know what the roles are. When water bottles start flying, does it mean it's a tech, or what? But it's a scary thing when water bottles and other objects start coming on the floor like they did today."

Bryant scored 35 points for the Lakers.

Suns 124, Clippers 93

In Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire led seven Suns players in double figures with 26 points and the hosts beat Los Angeles for the sixth straight time.

Rasual Butler scored 22 for the Clippers.

Heat 93, Knicks 87

In New York, Dwyane Wade had 30 points and nine rebounds as Miami spoiled the Knicks' return to Christmas competition.

Michael Beasley scored 13 of his 19 points after halftime for the Heat, who opened a comfortable lead by limiting New York to 31 points across the middle two quarters.

Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points, and David Lee had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who had a six-game home winning streak snapped and lost for just the third time in 10 games overall.

Celtics 86, Magic 77

In Orlando, Rajon Rondo had 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists as Boston beat the Magic.

Ray Allen added 18 points and Tony Allen had 16 in place of the injured Paul Pierce for the Celtics, who rolled to their 14th win in the last 15 games.

Trail Blazers 107, Nuggets 96

In Portland, Brandon Roy had 41 points while wearing a thin brace to protect his sore left shoulder and Steve Blake added a season-high 17 to lead the Trail Blazers to a win over Denver.

Roy had 25 points in the first half and made a career-high 16 field goals for Portland.

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Visit The Japan Times' Web site for a recap of Saturday's bj-league games.

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