Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/7

Game 1: Tuesday, December 7th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 22nd
Game 3: Sunday, February 27th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 5th

Cavaliers 90

(15-11, 5-9 away)

Nets 92

(9-16, 6-7 home)

Coverage: FSOH

7:30 PM ET, December 22, 2004

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 28 10 29 2390
NJ 18 31 19 2492

Top Performers

Cleveland: L. James 23 Pts, 9 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl

New Jersey: R. Jefferson 42 Pts, 6 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Alley-oop with 0.8 left the difference

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- LeBron James made many, many mistakes in the final 2 minutes, the last of which helped cost the Cleveland Cavaliers the game.

Richard Jefferson capped the highest scoring night of his career by sinking an alley-oop layup off an inbounds pass with 0.8 seconds left, giving the New Jersey Nets a 92-90 victory Wednesday night.

Jefferson scored 42 points, the final two coming when he rolled free of James, caught Jabari Smith's lob pass and dropped the ball through. No defender was within 10 feet of Jefferson when he scored.

"It was a lack of communication, that's all," coach Paul Silas said. "We were supposed to switch everything and didn't switch it."

It was a frustrating finish for the Cavs, and especially for James.

Despite scoring 23 points with nine rebounds and nine assists, in the final 2 minutes he committed two traveling violations, drew a technical foul, missed a foul shot and a field goal attempt, and didn't stick with Jefferson on the crucial inbounds play.

"It's disappointing because we fought so hard to get back in this game," James said. "I don't want to take anything away from them, because they played well, but this was another one we let slip away."

Jefferson shot 12-for-20 from the field and 16-for-17 from the line for the Nets, who also got a career-high 22 points from Rodney Buford. Vince Carter, acquired last week from Toronto, was sidelined by a sore Achilles tendon. He expects to make his Nets debut Monday against Detroit.

James was livid that referee Marc Davis whistled him for two traveling violations and a technical foul.

"Those are great moves, I don't care what anybody says. I've been doing those moves since I've been playing basketball. I thought they gave you an extra step in the NBA, even though I didn't take one," James said.

James had a dunk and then made one of two free throws to tie it at 90 with 43.6 seconds left. A missed jumper by Buford led to a jump ball with 17.5 seconds left, and the Cavs controlled it.

James missed a 10-foot runner, and New Jersey rebounded and called timeout with 1.5 seconds remaining to set up an inbounds play on which Jefferson lined up near the free throw line.

"He winked at me, and I knew he was going to go," Smith said.

Jason Kidd set a pick on James, and Jeff McInnis failed to pick up Jefferson when James didn't fight through the screen.

"I should have switched, I didn't switch. Blame it on me. That's what everybody else said," McInnis said.

Cleveland had a final chance, but ex-Net Lucious Harris' 3-point attempt was long.

New Jersey held Cleveland to 10 points and had an 18-0 run in the second quarter, and Buford ended the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 49-38 lead. The Cavs made their comeback in the third quarter, and James ended the period with a 3-pointer to pull the Cavs to 68-67.

Game notes

This was only the second of Cleveland's 26 games to be decided by four points or less. ... The Cavs have lost six straight at the Meadowlands. ... Nets F Brian Scalabrine strained his left hamstring in the second quarter and didn't return. ... Cleveland F Anderson Varejao sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and didn't return. ... With several minor trade rumors swirling around the Cavs, Silas said nothing was imminent. "Jim (general manager Jim Paxson) and I haven't discussed any moves at all. He's talking to people all the time, but we're really not even close," Silas said.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 90 92
FGM-FGA 32-84 (.381) 34-78 (.436)
3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 4-8 (.500)
FTM-FTA 22-27 (.815) 20-25 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-48 11-41
Assists 20 24
Turnovers 9 11
Steals 6 3
Blocks 5 6
Fast Break Points 6 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 21 (1/0)
Largest Lead 12 12

Top Performers

New Jersey
LeBron James James
Points: 23
Reb: 9
Ast: 9
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Richard Jefferson Jefferson
Points: 42
Reb: 6
Ast: 7
Stl: 1
Blk: 1