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Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010

LeBron, Cavs run win streak to 10

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James was willing to do anything necessary to beat close friend Dwyane Wade.

News photo
Muscular move: Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal drives around Miami's Michael Beasley in the second quarter on Thursday night. The Cavaliers beat the Heat 102-84. AP PHOTO

Even if it meant filling in at point guard.

Forced to start in the backcourt, James scored 36 points — 17 on free throws — and Daniel Gibson added 12 in the second half after rushing back from the hospital as the Cleveland Cavaliers ran their winning streak to 10 with a 102-84 win over Wade and the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

James ran Cleveland's offense in place of Gibson, who had been starting while Mo Williams and Delonte West recover from injuries.

In attack mode from the start, James added eight assists, seven rebounds and went 17 of 21 from the line. The anticipated one-on-one showdown between him and Wade never materialized as the Cavs controlled the game and attempted 36 free throws to 14 for Miami.

"This team is just better than us," said Wade, flattened twice by run-ins with Shaquille O'Neal. "You have to be realistic. I understand this team has NBA championship aspirations. We don't have that. We're focusing on trying to get to the playoffs and this team is trying to get to the championship. It's totally different."

Wade finished with 24 points on 11-of-26 shooting and Michael Beasley had 21 as the Heat dropped their four straight and sixth in seven games.

Gibson was scratched from the starting lineup and didn't enter the game until the second half after joining his pregnant fiancee, singer Keyshia Cole, who was hospitalized for precautionary reasons. He made two 3-pointers in the fourth when the Cavs outscored the Heat 21-13.

Gibson watched part of the game on TV at home before heading to the arena.

"We had a long day," Gibson said, adding that Cole has not had the baby.

The last time James and Wade hooked up on Jan. 12, they scored a combined 70 points in an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better matchup. Both provided their usual jaw-dropping plays again, but James was able to improve to 13-9 against Wade, including 9-1 in Cleveland.

"Nothing personal," said James, averaging 34 points, 6.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds in three wins over Miami this season. "Strictly business."

Miami was within eight after three quarters, but the Cavs outscored them 10-3 to open the fourth, taking a 91-76 lead on a 3 by Gibson. Wade tried to keep Miami close but didn't have nearly as much help as James, who has adapted his game lately to fill the backcourt void.

"I knew I was going to have the ball in my hands a lot because I was the starting point guard or point forward, whatever you want to call it," James said. "Like Magic (Johnson). I can go coast to coast and do a lot of things with the ball that point guards in this league can't do."

Blazers 96, Spurs 93

In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 13 rebounds and the Trail Blazers rallied for a come-from-behind victory over San Antonio.

Dunleavy steps aside

LOS ANGELES (AP) Mike Dunleavy stepped down as the Los Angeles Clippers' head coach Thursday, retaining his job as general manager.

Assistant coach Kim Hughes will be the interim replacement for Dunleavy, who has led the Clippers to just one winning season since taking over the star-crossed franchise in 2003.

The Clippers abruptly announced the moves in an afternoon news release, saying the decision was voluntary and mutual. Los Angeles (21-28) has lost five of six heading into Saturday's home game against San Antonio, with another once-promising season in danger of slipping away.

"It just seems clear that the team needs a fresh voice, and we hope that our players will respond in a positive way," Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a statement.

Despite a talented roster including Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon and Marcus Camby, the Clippers are in 12th place in the Western Conference. Los Angeles dropped a season-worst seven games under .500 with six losses on a just-completed eight-game road trip.

Perhaps the Clippers Curse has a bit to do with it as well: Blake Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in last summer's draft, will miss the entire season after breaking his kneecap in Los Angeles' final preseason game.

Paul has surgery

NEW ORLEANS (AP) New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul will be out about four to six weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday.

Paul will start rehabilitating immediately and be on crutches for two or three weeks, the team announced.

He will miss the Feb. 14 All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"Obviously this is a tough thing for me," Paul said in a statement. "I have been fortunate through my career as a basketball player to not have suffered many injuries. The main thing is for me to get back healthy and to help this team however I can."

Paul was injured Jan. 27 against Golden State, then aggravated the injury when he collided with a camera while chasing an errant pass in the final seconds of regulation against the Chicago Bulls last Friday.

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