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Monday, May 3, 2010

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Foul mood: Celtics guard Ray Allen fouls Cavs forward LeBron James during their playoff game on Sunday in Cleveland. The Cavs won 101-93. AP PHOTO

Williams dunk lights fuse as Cavaliers take down Celtics in Game 1

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James always soars in the NBA playoffs.

Mo Williams finally rose to the occasion — literally.

Williams delivered his first dunk for Cleveland, a resounding slam that stunned Boston's Paul Pierce, shook the arena and ignited the Cavaliers, who rallied for a 101-93 victory over the Celtics on Saturday night after being outplayed for much of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Williams' unexpected dunk over Pierce fueled a game-ending 43-24 spurt by the Cavs.

"I knew Mo could dunk," James said of his teammate, generously listed as 6-foot-1 (185 cm). "I told Mo a long time ago if he ever dunked in a game it was going to spark us like we haven't been sparked before. Not only did it fire the team, it fired himself up."

Hours before receiving his second straight MVP award, James scored 35 points and Williams added 20, 14 in the third quarter.

James, playing with a sprained and bruised right elbow, delivered yet another memorable performance as the Cavs withstood a furious punch from the Celtics, who led by 11 in the third and seem intent on making this a long series.

James, who also had seven rebounds and seven assists, drained a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left to put Boston away.

"It's been better," James said of his elbow. "But that's no excuse for me. I don't make any excuses and I'll be ready for (Game 2) Monday."

Historically, winning a series opener is a good omen for the Cavs, who are 10-0 when taking Game 1.

Rajon Rondo had 27 points and 12 assists and Kevin Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who were held to 15 points in the fourth quarter.

For three quarters, the Celtics looked like their old selves.

Dismissed as being washed up, the 17-time NBA champions controlled the tempo from the start. With Rondo driving past Williams and any other defender in front of him, the Celtics were on the verge of swiping home-court advantage away from Cleveland.

But James, who seemed to be bothered by the elbow early on, picked it up down the stretch.

He always does.

"You knew it was coming," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought toward the end of the second quarter he started his assault."

LeBron wins award

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James has acknowledged he'll win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award for the second straight season.

James, who raised his game to another level while leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to 61 wins in the regular season, said he's grateful to win the league's top individual award for the second straight season.

"It's another humbling experience," he said before the Cavaliers beat Boston 101-93 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday. "It's hard to grasp, honestly. You put in a lot of hard work as an individual, you get an opportunity to showcase your talent with teammates that you love in a city that you love, it's great."

He will receive the trophy on Sunday in his hometown of Akron.

James is the 10th player in league history to be honored in consecutive seasons, joining Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash. Russell, Chamberlain and Bird won it three times in a row.

"To be in that class with guys who won it back-to-back or won it period, and to be in those books is great," James said.

The 25-year-old averaged 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists this season. He will receive his award at Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron, a gym he played in many times as a high school star.

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