CLEVELAND // The top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a tightly-contested 96-94 win over the Chicago Bulls yesterday, but the victory was overshadowed by an injury scare to LeBron James. James fell just short of his second straight triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but was forced to shoot a free throw left-handed after aggravating a right elbow injury late in the game.
"(The injury) has been going on for a few weeks. Hopefully it doesn't continue to bother me as we move forward," James told reporters. The reigning league MVP said he had X-rays during his team's day off and they had revealed no structural damage. "We're trying to figure it out," he added. "It just feels like when you hit your funny bone and sometimes you can't feel it." Cleveland will now face the Boston Celtics, who wrapped up their series 4-1 with a 96-86 win over the Miami Heat yesterday.
The Cavaliers had a team-high 25 points from Antawn Jamison, who made a three-pointer in the final minutes to give his team a 93-84 lead that proved decisive despite a late Bulls charge. Derrick Rose scored a game-high 31 points and Luol Deng added 26 for the Bulls, who missed a shot inside to surrender possession with 10 seconds remaining. In the Western conference, the Los Angeles Lakers reasserted control of their series with an 111-87 pounding of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 11 rebounds and fellow seven-footer Andrew Bynum added 21 and 11 as the NBA champions took a 3-2 series lead heading into Game Six in Oklahoma City on Friday. In Dallas, the Mavericks rebounded for an emphatic 103-81 win over the San Antonio Spurs to cut their series deficit to 3-2. Caron Butler scored a career playoff-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the way for Dallas.