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Sunday, May 9, 2010

LeBron's big first quarter fuels Cavs

BOSTON (AP) LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers only needed one quarter to elbow their way back into the lead of their Eastern Conference semifinal with the Boston Celtics.

James scored 21 of his 38 points in the first quarter to help Cleveland beat Boston 124-95 on Friday night, handing the Celtics their worst home playoff loss ever and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

"It started with me tonight. Everyone else saw my aggression and took advantage of it," James said. "I think rest helped me; rest helped all of us, and we were able to put together a complete game for the first time in these playoffs."

Showing no ill-effects of an elbow problem that was the talk of Cleveland during the three-day layoff since a Game 2 loss at home, James finished with eight rebounds and seven assists. The 21 points in a quarter was a franchise postseason record.

"I know I'm going to hear a lot about the elbow, but I'm here to play basketball and give our team a chance to win," James said. "We knew how important it was to come out and play aggressively after giving away Game 2."

Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, while Shaquille O'Neal added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Rajon Rondo, who had 19 assists in Boston's Game 2 victory on Monday, had 18 points and eight assists.

The Celtics missed 10 of their first 13 shots, hitting just 27 percent in the first quarter to spot Cleveland a 21-point lead. The Cavaliers shot 67 percent from the field in the first — and 59 percent for the game — and Boston was never able to recover. The Celtics' previous worst home playoff loss was 97-70 to Indiana on May 7, 2005, in Game 7 of the first round.

"It was great to see LeBron set the tone from the jump," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "And the rest of the team followed."

Game 4 is Sunday, and the Celtics need a victory to split their home games and assure themselves of another.

James wore a black sleeve on his right elbow, which became a concern after he shot a free throw left-handed in the closing minutes of Cleveland's first-round playoff clincher against Chicago. But he went 8 of 10 from the field in the first quarter — most of them mid- to long-range jumpers — and after that it didn't matter.

Suns 110, Spurs 96

In San Antonio, Goran Dragic scored 23 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix to a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals, putting San Antonio in a historically irreparable hole.

The Spurs have put Phoenix through a decade of postseason misery, ousting the Suns from the playoffs four consecutive times since 2003. One more win will end all that.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series, and the way the Suns have played in this series, San Antonio might be struggling to find a way to beat them.

Jason Richardson had 21 points and Grant Hill added 18 for the Suns.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 27 points, while Tony Parker had just 10 points on 5-of-17 shooting in his return to the starting lineup.

Arenas back home

GREAT FALLS , Va. (AP) How long was Gilbert Arenas in a halfway house?

Long enough to get locked out of his own driveway.

The Washington Wizards guard arrived home Friday morning, having completed the confinement portion of his punishment for bringing guns into the team's locker room.

Wearing a short-sleeved black T-shirt, Arenas drove up to his large brick house in the Virginia suburbs of Washington in a tan Mercedes SUV at about 8:30 a.m. He then reached out his left arm and tried to punch the combination on the key pad to enter his gated driveway.

After several failed attempts, he muttered "Alrighty," got out of his car and called toward the house for help. A woman inside the gate yelled out the code. Arenas punched it in and finally was able to pull into his driveway.

Approached by a reporter, Arenas responded to all questions with a polite shrug, indicating he had nothing to say.

A few minutes later, he re-emerged in a long-sleeve black T-shirt with a hood pulled low over his forehead. He stepped into a white Range Rover and drove off.

Arenas pleaded guilty to felony gun possession in the District of Columbia in January and was sentenced in March to a month in the halfway house. His sentence also includes two years of probation, a $5,000 fine and 400 hours of community service that can't be performed at basketball clinics.

His sentence started April 9 with two days in jail before he was moved to the halfway house in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. He was allowed to leave the facility during the day.



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