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Cavs halt slide, tie Celtics for 8th spot

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Chosen One picked the perfect night to play
the best game of his career.

LeBron James scored a career-high 41 points and lifted the
Cleveland Cavaliers out of a four-game losing streak.

James scored the Cavaliers' final 10 points to overtake the New
Jersey Nets in the closing seconds for a 107-104 win Saturday
night.

"I hate losing. I don't like losing. I seized the opportunity
for us to win and I was able to capture it," said James, who
became the youngest player to score 40 or more points in an NBA
game.

James scored the winning basket with 16 seconds left after
tipping a pass by Richard Jefferson. Kedrick Brown grabbed the
deflection and got it to James who drove half the court for a
left-handed layup, making it 105-104.

After Jefferson missed a jumper on the next possession, James
got a long rebound and again drove to the hoop. He slammed the
final points home with two seconds left, sending the sellout crowd
into a frenzy.

Kerry Kittles clanked a long 3-pointer off the iron as time
expired.

The Cavaliers moved into a tie with Boston for the eighth
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

James also had a career-high 13 assists along with six rebounds
and three steals. He was 15-for-29 from the field and 10-for-10 on
free throws.

Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said it was by far James' best
performance.

"We needed a big night from him and he just carried us," Silas
said. "He just was simply awesome. He did everything we needed to
get the victory."

The Cavaliers had not won since point guard Jeff McInnis bruised
his right shoulder March 16 against Chicago. He was placed on the
injured list before the game.

Dressed in street clothes, McInnis ran onto the court and
embraced James as confetti fell from the ceiling. Zydrunas
Ilgauskas threw his protective face mask in the air in celebration.

The media huddled around an empty chair at James' locker after
the game. He came up behind them and joked, "Where's LeBron?"

Cavaliers center Tony Battie later came over and jokingly asked
James what it felt like to score his first 40-point game.

"Oh man, you know it was exciting," James responded, laughing.
"I was able to bring back my team."

James was involved in practically every score down the stretch,
either driving to the basket or dishing off to Carlos Boozer, who
had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Ilgauskas scored 17 with 10
rebounds.

"Regardless of his age, he's a special player," Nets coach
Lawrence Frank said. "He obviously had a great sense of urgency."

Jefferson had a season-high 35 points for the Nets. He shot
12-for-20 and kept hitting jumpers to maintain New Jersey's lead.

But the Cavaliers went on a 10-3 run to tie it at 96 with 3:15
left on a pass from James underneath to Boozer. Brown hit a free
throw to make it 97-96, giving Cleveland its first lead since six
minutes left in the first half.

New Jersey took a 104-99 lead when Jefferson was fouled on a
drive, missed the free throw on a three-point play and Rodney
Rogers put in the rebound.

Kittles had 24 points, and Lucious Harris had 19 for the Nets.

It was the Nets' fourth loss in five games without Jason Kidd
and Kenyon Martin. Kidd has a bone bruise in his left knee and
Martin has left knee tendinitis.

Down by 11 in the third period, Cleveland started a run of six
straight points from Boozer. James took over with a steal and a
dunk, then made four free throws after two hard fouls from Jason
Collins.

The Cavaliers opened each game of their losing streak without
much energy and did the same Saturday, falling behind 19-10 in the
first period.

But Brown gave the Cavaliers a boost, finishing with 12 points.

James had 11 straight points over a 4{-minute stretch in the
second quarter to put the Cavaliers up 40-35.

But the Nets responded with a 12-0 run led by Harris, who was
6-for-6 with 14 first-half points. The Nets led 52-44 at halftime.

Game notes
James is 19 years and 87 days old. Clifford Robinson was
the previous youngest player to score 40 or more, according to the
Elias Sports Bureau. Robinson had 45 points for Detroit four days
short of his 20th birthday on March 9, 1980. ... James has 12 games
with 30 or more points. ... New Jersey won the season series 2-1.
... Martin left the Nets on Saturday to return to New Jersey for
personal reasons. ... The Cavaliers had 14th home sellout, the
third most in franchise history. ... The Cavaliers have a tough
three-game trip coming up against San Antonio, Dallas and
Milwaukee.

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