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Thursday, March 31, 2011
Cavs shock LeBron, Heat
NBA's worst team gets revenge despite blowing 23-point lead
CLEVELAND (AP) As he left the arena, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott smiled and accepted fist bumps and congratulations from security guards lining the hallway.
"Coach," one of them said, "we're going to talk about this one all summer."
And probably for many more.
Cleveland got the win it wanted most.
Take that, LeBron.
Despite blowing a 23-point lead, the Cavs battled back to beat the Miami Heat 102-90 on Tuesday night, getting a small dose of satisfaction against James, the franchise's biggest star who was making his second homecoming visit to Cleveland since bolting last summer.
J.J. Hickson scored 21, Anthony Parker scored 20 and unsung center Ryan Hollins threw his weight around for the Cavs, who were embarrassed by the Heat 118-90 on Dec. 2 — a night when Cleveland fans unleashed pent-up hatred on James, the native son who scorned them.
This time, it was James who left the floor beaten. He finished with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and had to endure another night of constant booing from fans who once cherished his every move but now view him as a bitter enemy for betraying them.
James took the loss in stride, giving the Cavs credit they deserved.
"Anytime we play anybody, we know we're going to get the best out of them," James said. "They came out and played extremely well. It was a good win for them."
It was more than that for Cleveland.
James' departure was a crippling blow to a city that hasn't celebrated a championship since 1964, and a region desperate for something positive to happen.
For at least one night, Cleveland rocked again.
"This was for the fans and for their support," Cavs guard Daniel Gibson said. "They've stayed behind us and this was a way of saying thank you."
In the closing seconds, the sellout crowd of 20,562 cut loose at a victory even the most loyal Clevelander couldn't have imagined. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who accused James of quitting in last year's playoffs after the two-time MVP announced he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a poorly conceived TV special, high-fived anyone within reach.
On the floor afterward, Parker, whose last 3-pointer with 2:47 left capped a 12-0 run and put the Heat away, addressed Cavs fans.
"You guys deserve it," he said as the fans erupted.
Later, Parker said the Cavs were out to fix what went wrong on Dec. 2.
"The first time we played them here, we were embarrassed and they took a little from us," he said. "This is the night that we wanted to get that back, for us, but more for the fans. That was great getting it back for them."
Rockets 112, Nets 87
In Newark, N.J., Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and the Rockets moved within two games of the final playoff berth in the Western Conference with a victory over the Nets.
Kevin Martin added 20 points as the Rockets (39-35) posted their sixth win in seven games and inched closer to idle eighth-place Memphis (41-33) with eight games left in the regular season.
Thunder 115, Warriors 114 (OT)
In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 39 points, Russell Westbrook hit the winning free throw with 11.4 seconds left in overtime and the Thunder finished their longest homestand of the season with a victory.
Durant scored eight of Oklahoma City's nine points in overtime, but served as a decoy to create room along the right side of the lane as Westbrook drove to the basket and got fouled. Westbrook missed his first free throw, but made the second to put the Thunder on top.
Kings 116, Suns 113
In Sacramento, Marcus Thornton scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds for the Kings, who won their season-high fourth straight.
Despite the strong possibility of the team moving to Anaheim next season, the Kings are enjoying their best stretch of the season, winning five of six games.