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Murray is money with game on line


Published: Fri, March 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


He's already had two game-winning shots asCleveland eyes the playoffs.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Flip Murray wasn't expected to help lead the Cavaliers into the playoffs when he was acquired a month ago in last-minute trade.
But he's doing just that with clutch shooting that has saved Cleveland in several games.
Murray prevented an embarrassing loss Wednesday night by hitting a game-tying 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in regulation. He hit another 3 in overtime and finished with 19 points to help Cleveland edge the Charlotte Bobcats, 120-118.
"This is the second or third time he's done that here," said LeBron James, who sank the game-winning 21-footer with 0.9 seconds left in overtime.
That came after James, who finished with 37 points and his ninth career triple-double, split a triple-team near midcourt and made a pinpoint 50-foot pass to Murray in the far corner for the tying shot.
"As long as he's open, I'm going to him," James said. "He's made big shots, it's as simple as that."
Brown not surprised
Coach Mike Brown isn't surprised by Murray's clutch performances.
"Flip is a gamer," he said. "He's not afraid of anything. If he's open, he's going to stick the shot."
Murray wasn't known for his long-distance accuracy when he was acquired from Seattle for seldom-used Mike Wilks and cash just before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
Brown admitted he didn't have overwhelming confidence in Murray's shooting prowess after the fourth-year guard missed his first eight shots from beyond the arc in a Cleveland uniform.
"I called the coaching staff together," Brown revealed. "I told them, 'We've got to tell Flip to start driving more and forget that long stuff.' That was the day of the Chicago game and we never got a chance to say anything to him. We're not going to, either."
On a streak
That was March 2, when Murray took a pass from James and hit a buzzer-beating 3 for a 92-91 win that snapped a five-game losing streak. Five days later, he scored 24 points in a win over Toronto and on Sunday he sparked Cleveland to a 96-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers -- scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half, including the game-winning free throw as Cleveland overcame a 15-point deficit.
"Flip can score and he can create off the dribble, which is what we needed when Larry [Hughes] went down," said general manager Danny Ferry.
Hughes had finger surgery on Feb. 14, his second in six weeks, and may or may not be back in time for the playoffs.
Unrestricted free agent
Murray, an unrestricted free agent after the season, knows that producing down the stretch and into the postseason could help him land a rich multiyear contract -- perhaps with Cleveland.
"I like it here, but negotiations are a long way off," Murray said. "If I take care of my game and help my team win, everything else will take care of itself."
Ferry said he'll worry about signing Murray this summer.
"We'll sit down and talk after the season," he said. "In the time he's been here, Flip has proven he is capable. The trade has worked out very well. He's helped us win games."


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