Cleveland wins series 4-2 (Game 4 of 6)

Cleveland wins series 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, April 22nd
Game 2: Tuesday, April 25th
Game 3: Friday, April 28th
Game 4: Sunday, April 30th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 3rd
Game 6: Friday, May 5th

Cavaliers 96

(50-32, 19-22 away)

Wizards 106

(42-40, 27-14 home)

Coverage: CSNB

7:30 PM ET, April 30, 2006

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 27 30 15 2496
WSH 26 20 26 34106

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 38 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast

WSH: G. Arenas 34 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Arenas fuels Wiz with spectacular second half

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hold on, LeBron. Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards aren't quite ready to pack it in.

Gilbert Arenas' PPG by quarter; first round vs Cavaliers
First 6.3
Second 4.5
Third 5.5
Fourth 14.8

With LeBron James suddenly, stunningly, quiet after a tremendous first half Sunday night, Arenas recovered from an awful start to lead Washington's comeback for a 106-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, tying the first-round series at 2-2.

"Oh, man, that was night and day, wasn't it?" Arenas said after putting behind a six-point, 1-for-9 first half to finish with 34 points -- 20 in the fourth quarter.

So much attention during this series has been focused on James' NBA postseason debut, leaving Arenas feeling a tad overshadowed. He is, after all, a two-time All-Star who finished fourth in the league in scoring this season.

"This is LeBron's show, you know. We're just all witnesses," Arenas said with a broad smile, mimicking a catch phrase used in James' shoe ads.

At halftime, everything looked quite good for James and Co. and rather bleak for the Wizards. James set franchise playoff records for points in a quarter (18) and half (25), Arenas was struggling, and Cleveland was up 57-46. Another half anything close to that, and Cleveland would head home for Wednesday's Game 5 with a 3-1 edge.

But two key things happened in Washington's locker room.

First, the always-quirky Arenas changed his jersey, shorts, shoes and tights, saying what he was wearing had brought bad luck. Then -- and, quite likely, more importantly -- Wizards coach Eddie Jordan told his players he'd deviate from his highly regimented Princeton offense and wouldn't dictate plays.

"That's all we said: Just loosen up, got out and have some fun, I'm not going to call plays," Jordan said.

It worked, of course, but there was much more to it than that, as Washington outscored Cleveland 60-39 after the break. For one thing, James was nowhere to be found at times in the second half. He took only three shots in the third quarter, missed all, and wound up with 38 points.

James finished with six rebounds and five assists, but he also had seven turnovers, including four offensive fouls. After one in the fourth quarter, he put his palms up and mouthed, "What did I do?" His coach, Mike Brown, crumpled a paper cup and threw it to the ground.

"I've been called for more offensive fouls in this series than all 82 games combined, probably," James said. "I don't know if they're trying to take my aggressiveness away, make me play outside."

During Saturday's off-day, it was Jordan who spoke about the referees, saying he thought James was getting preferential treatment.

"Whatever they said, it obviously worked," Brown said, noting that Arenas took 17 free throws, James seven.

Still, in crunch time, as Washington was padding its lead and using smaller, quicker players to guard James, the 21-year-old star wasn't taking Cleveland's shots. Nope, it was the likes of Donyell Marshall, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Damon Jones who were getting touches. Flip Murray wound up scoring 19, and the only other Cavaliers player in double figures was Ilgauskas with 13.

"If I'm double-teamed, I'm going to give the ball up," James said.

Arenas got going a bit with eight points in the third quarter, as Washington whittled a 13-point deficit. He was fouled on a drive to the basket with 0.4 seconds left in that period, and with chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" ringing off the rafters, he made both free throws to tie the game at 72.

That figured to set up Bron-Bron vs. Gil, Part II, after their down-the-stretch duel in Game 3. In that one Friday, James hit the go-ahead shot with 5.7 seconds left in the game to finish off his 41-point performance, before Arenas -- who scored half of his 34 in the fourth quarter -- missed an open 3-pointer that would have won it.

On Sunday, James opened Sunday's fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, his sixth of the game, but Arenas answered from beyond the arc. Antawn Jamison tacked on another 3 for Washington, giving the hosts their first lead since early in the second quarter, and Arenas added a long jumper to make it 80-76.

Just as in Washington's Game 2 victory, Arenas got plenty of help from his top sidekicks, Jamison and Caron Butler. Jamison had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Butler added 21 points -- 14 in the second half -- and some tough defense on James.

James began 6-for-7 from the field -- 4-for-4 on 3s -- and scored 15 of the Cavaliers' 16 points in one first-half stretch.

That's when Jordan ripped up his script, in part because former Wizards guard Larry Hughes was telling his Cleveland teammates what plays were on the way.

"Coach said, 'Throw away the plays," Arenas said. "'Throw away the plays?' All right. That's like playing outside."

Game notes

The Cavaliers watched the end of the Suns-Lakers overtime game on a big-screen TV in the visiting locker room. When Kobe Bryant hit the winning shot, there were shouts of "Show-Be!" and "Kobe Jordan!". ... Jordan hasn't heard from the NBA about his comments Saturday that James should have been called for traveling on his winning shot in Game 3, and that James is getting calls Arenas isn't.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 96 106
FGM-FGA 34-68 (.500) 33-78 (.423)
3PM-3PA 9-22 (.409) 8-20 (.400)
FTM-FTA 19-25 (.760) 32-40 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-39 14-39
Assists 15 16
Turnovers 23 11
Steals 6 7
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 14 18
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 34 (1/0) 21 (0/0)
Largest Lead 13 10

Top Performers

LeBron James James
Points: 38
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Gilbert Arenas Arenas
Points: 34
Reb: 5
Ast: 6
Stl: 3
Blk: 1