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Cavaliers use strong fourth quarter to pull out win over Clippers


LOS ANGELES - Everybody knows the Cavaliers are LeBron James` team. He loves it, though, when other guys call some of the shots.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 25 points, James added 22 and Cleveland rallied to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-95 on Sunday night.

Drew Gooden added 18 points and 17 rebounds for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who needed a fourth-quarter spurt after blowing leads of 11 and 13 points in the game.

On different occasions, Devin Brown and Larry Hughes suggested plays, with the approval of Cavs coach Mike Brown. James was enthusiastic, too.

"I`m leading the team, but I have no problem with other guys calling sets. It`s fun," he said. "Everybody is contributing. It`s not about LeBron James, it`s about everybody on the team."

Sam Cassell scored 28 points for the Clippers, who lost their second in a row after opening the season 4-0. Corey Maggette had 25 points and 11 rebounds, the first time someone other than Chris Kaman led the team in rebounding this season. Kaman added 21 points.

"If we keep getting this effort, we`ll be fine," Cassell said. "This was a heck of an effort. I`m mad that we lost, but if we keep playing the way we played tonight, we`ll win 70 percent of our games."

The Clippers slumped to 35 percent field-goal shooting in the fourth, while Cleveland hit 62 percent.

"We just had too many dry spells during the game," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We fought our way back into it, then they ran the lead back up on us and we came back again with some good play out of certain guys. We got ourselves a lead going into the fourth quarter, but we didn`t sustain it."

James played the second half with three fouls, which kept him to eight points in the half.

"This is the best offensively we`ve played in three years at this point early in the season," he said. "It`s exciting."

The Clippers fell behind by 13 points in the third quarter before rallying with a 23-7 run. Cassell had nine points, Kaman six and Los Angeles went ahead 75-72 heading into the final 12 minutes.

"It`s always tough playing from behind and we did the whole night," Kaman said. "We made a run back at them and got up a little bit, but then we just fell apart, which is not like us. We usually play pretty well in the last five, six minutes, but we didn`t tonight."

Instead, the Cavs dominated the fourth, using 8-0 and 10-0 runs to take the lead for good. The Clippers tied the game at 80 before Ilgauskas scored four points in the second spurt to help keep Cleveland ahead 92-83.

"Right now, he`s in his comfort level," James said about Ilgauskas. "He gets his outside jumper going, he can post. He likes to make a couple jumpers before he goes to work outside."

The Cavs built a 21-10 lead before the Clippers outscored them 17-5 to take a 27-26 lead early in the second quarter.

But the Cavs answered with a 17-6 spurt that helped them to a 50-44 halftime lead. James picked up his third foul with 1:48 remaining in the second.


* USC basketball star O.J. Mayo attended the game with teammate James Dunleavy, whose father coaches the Clippers.

* Cavs G-F Sasha Pavlovic left because of back spasms after playing seven minutes.

* Dunleavy is two victories from tying Jack Ramsay`s record of 158 from 1972-76 for most wins in the team`s history.

* The Cavs swept both games with the Clippers last season.

* The night`s biggest cheer was for a Clippers dancer who made an over-the-head half-court shot while showing a fan what he was about to attempt. The fan missed badly.

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