The Cleveland Cavaliers stormed to their eighth successive win while LeBron James became the youngest player to score 11,000 career points in the NBA in a comfortable 106-82 win over the New Jersey Nets. A third-quarter surge put the Cavaliers in command as they improved to a record of nine wins and two losses and they remain a half game behind the NBA champion Boston Celtics, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs forward James scored 31 points to lead the visiting team and succeed Kobe Bryant as the youngest player to reach the 11,000-point mark. Cleveland scored the first 14 points after the intermission for a 61-52 lead, sparked by Delonte West's four-for-four shooting from three-point range. "It's good that we have that killer mentality early in the season," James said. "Delonte shot the lights out."
Nets coach Lawrence Frank said his team had come out flat after half-time. "That third quarter started with very low energy," he said. "We were bad on both ends. That's a recipe for a big loss." New Jersey, who fell to 4-6, had the upper hand early in the contest. The Nets used a 7-0 burst to take a 25-18 lead in the first quarter before James led the Cavs back with a driving lay up, a jumper and three free throws to help Cleveland cut New Jersey's advantage to two points at 28-26.
James scored 15 points in the first quarter to pass Bryant's record as the youngest player to reach 11,000 points. James, a teammate of Bryant on the US Olympic team which won gold in Beijing in August, reached the mark at 23 years and 323 days, more than a year younger than Lakers guard Bryant, who hit the milestone when he was 25 years and 99 days. West and Mo Williams, who was three-for-four from beyond the three-point arc, both added 16 points for the Cavs.
Devin Harris scored 23 points for the Nets, who had only 30 points in the second half and were 2-of-14 on three-pointers. * Reuters