LeBron James’ 40 Points Lead Cavaliers Over Bulls

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April 19, 2010

LeBron James' 40 Points Lead Cavaliers Over Bulls CLEVELAND — The Cleveland
Cavaliers made sure Joakim Noah went home without having any fun.

LeBron James scored 40 points and took
over in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers, fueled by a
rabid home crowd that booed every move by Noah, maintained home-court
advantage by beating the Chicago Bulls 112-102 on Monday night to take a
2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

James added eight rebounds and eight
assists for the Cavs, who led 96-93 with 4:30 left before the league's
soon-to-be-two-time MVP decided to dominate. He dropped a 3-pointer over
Noah that he capped with a quick dance move and wink toward Chicago's
bench, made two free throws, a layup and two jumpers, scoring 11
straight as Cleveland opened a 107-98 lead with 1:36 left.

Noah, who criticized Cleveland's lack
of downtown activity between Games 1 and 2, had 25 points and 13
rebounds. Derrick Rose added 23 points and Luol Deng had 20 for the
Bulls.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Chicago.

Antawn Jamison scored 14 points and
Jamario Moon made four 3-pointers for Cleveland, which looked much more
out of sync than in Game 1. Shaquille O'Neal, a force at both ends in
the opener, scored eight points and played only 15 minutes — zero in the
fourth quarter.

James spent the first 3:26 of the
fourth on the bench getting rest. When he returned to the court, the
Cavs were clinging to an 85-82 lead over the Bulls, who were giving
top-seeded Cleveland all it could handle and were intent on evening the
best-of-seven series.

With the Cavs up three points, James
then pulled up for his 3-pointer over Noah, who had criticized
Cleveland's superstar for dancing on the court in a game earlier this
season. James, though, gave a little shoulder shake after his basket and
then capped his personal outburst with a jumper over Kirk Hinrich just
before the 24-second clock expired.

"In Game 1, I was very hesitant and
trying to feel out the defense too much," said James, who went 16-of-23
from the field. "They were giving me the jump shot and I just wasn't
taking it. I watched a lot of film from Game 1 and knew as soon as I
caught it they would back up and I could get an opportunity to shoot a
jumper.

"I just had to take it."

The Bulls, who pushed Boston to seven
games in the opening round last season, did a much better job
rebounding and were more physical than in Game 1.

But Chicago had no answer for James.
No one does.

He delivered one of those
did-he-really-do-that dunks in the first quarter, a soaring slam over
Chicago's James Johnson that could be one of the best — and most
ferocious — of his career.

Staring from the left side, James
drove to his right past Johnson down the foul line, reached back like a
baseball pitcher looking for more velocity on his fastball and powered
his jam over a stunned Johnson as Cleveland's sellout crowd gasped and
then erupted.

The dunk shook the backboard, not the
Bulls.

They trailed by 10 points early in
the second quarter, but worked their way back with extra effort,
especially on the offensive glass.

Noah grabbed four of Chicago's eight
offensive rebounds in the first half, resulting in 13 second-chance
points. Anthony Parker's 3-pointer put the Cavs up 50-44, but with
O'Neal on the bench after picking up his third personal, Noah scored six
straight points as the Bulls pulled within 52-50 at halftime.

"They kept scrapping," James said.

During an on-court TV interview,
James lamented the easy baskets the Bulls were getting and promised the
Cavs would "clean up our defense" in the second half.

The Bulls, though, still got to the
rim and only James' outside shooting saved Cleveland.

Notes
The Bulls are an NBA-best
107-35 in home playoff games. … The Cavs gave all fans a box of
macaroni and cheese as part of a promotion. That sounded tasty to Bulls
coach Vinny Del Negro. "I'm Italian, I like macaroni," Del Negro said.
"I'm hoping I can get a few boxes after the game. I love pasta." …
Someone's minutes for Cleveland were going to get pinched in the
playoffs and so far it's forward J.J. Hickson, who averaged more than 20
per game in the regular season and played just 40 seconds in Game 1. He
might be the odd man out, but Hickson won't complain. "I understand we
have goals we need to accomplish," he said. "I want whatever the team
wants. If it's the coaching staff decision not to play me, I'll do
whatever I can to help my team win." … Browns Pro Bowl return
specialist Josh Cribbs sat courtside and got a loud ovation when he was
shown on the giant scoreboard.

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