NBA James paces Cavs to 4th straight
It's the first time they've been over .500 since January 2001.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James is playing for an NBA winner. Around here, that's saying something.
James scored 33 points with 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers moved over .500 for the first time in more than three years with their fourth straight win, 99-88 over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 16 points -- 10 in the fourth quarter -- for the Cavaliers (4-3), who hadn't had a winning record since Jan. 12, 2001, when they were 17-16.
James was a high school sophomore back then, but now he's the NBA's reigning rookie of the year, player of the week and league-leading scorer.
"That doesn't mean a thing," James said of the Cavaliers' winning mark. "It's the early season, so we can't be worrying about that. We've got to win a lot more."
But after losing 52, 53, 65 and 47 games the past four seasons with little more to look forward to than the NBA lottery, being above .500 was worth celebrating.
"It means a whole lot to me," Cavs coach Paul Silas said. "We're one game over and we just have to keep this thing rolling."
Ilgauskas scored his 10 points during Cleveland's decisive fourth-quarter spurt that helped the Cavaliers open a six-point lead and put the Warriors away.
This was the type of game that a year ago the Cavaliers probably would have lost.
"Ain't no question," James said. "I'm not sure why, but we would have."
The Cavaliers were passive on offense in the first half, relying on jump shots and getting to the free-throw line just twice. But they got more aggressive after halftime, driving to the basket to pick up fouls and attempting 26 free throws in the final 24 minutes.
"We came together during a timeout in the third quarter and talked about keeping the energy," said forward Drew Gooden, who added 13 rebounds. "That's what allowed us to pull away."
Jason Richardson matched a season high with 27 points for Golden State, which was within 84-81 with 7:50 to play on Derek Fisher's 3-pointer.
Ilgauskas then hit a layup, James drained a pair of free throws, and Ilgauskas made two more free throws to push Cleveland's lead to 91-85. Richardson's jumper got the Warriors within four, but Ilgauskas scored again and Cleveland made its free throws down the stretch to ice it.
James added 12 rebounds, four assists and was the featured bobblehead for 20,562 happy fans.
Fisher added 15 points for the Warriors (1-7).
"We didn't play badly until the final five minutes," Golden State coach Mike Montgomery said. "We had three good looks at 3-pointers and missed them all."
After Richardson dunked, the Cavaliers pushed the ball up the floor to Jeff McInnis, whose 3-pointer just beat the horn and gave Cleveland a 75-71 lead entering the fourth quarter.
James, whose shooting touch has improved as much as anything about his game, drained three 3-pointers and scored 21 points in the first half -- 17 on outside jumpers.
"He's making them all," Richardson said. "If he does that he's going to be dangerous. He's dangerous already, but if he makes those -- look out."
The Cavaliers entered the game as the league's worst 3-point shooting team, making just 13 in their first six games. However, they drained five 3s in the second quarter to open a 49-47 lead at halftime.