The injury-depleted Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a 80-77 setback to the woeful Washington Wizards on Sunday.
Wizards shock Cleveland
The injury-depleted Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a 80-77 setback to the woeful Washington Wizards on Sunday, but did not lose any ground in their bid to claim the best record in the Eastern Conference. A 16-foot jump shot along the baseline by Washington's Antawn Jamison with 10.5 secs left broke a 77-77 tie. "It was a tough night for us," the Cleveland coach Mike Brown said following his team's lowest-scoring game of the season. "For some reason, we came out really flat."
Following a foul shot by guard Caron Butler that gave the Wizards a 80-77 lead, Cleveland forward LeBron James misfired on a potentially game-tying three-point jumper at the buzzer. The four-times All Star blamed the loss on the team's 39 per cent shooting and the Wizards' big edge on the glass. "One thing you can't control is making shots every game," he said. "But you can control the defence. Holding a team to 41 per cent shooting, that's better than our season average.
"It was their rebounding, their second-chance points that killed us. They did a good job of outworking us today." Washington (7-25), sitting in the cellar of the Southeast Division, were set on their way by Jamison's 26 points and 13 rebounds. "It's fun to be a part of these games but it's also fun when you get a win," said Jamison. The Central Division-leading Cavaliers fell to 27-6, but remained just a game behind reigning NBA champions and Atlantic Division front-runners Boston (29-6) in the East.
The Celtics failed to open up more of a gap on the Cavaliers when they were shocked by the New York Knicks 100-88 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Wilson Chandler scored 31 points and Al Harrington added 30 off the bench as the Knicks, who had lost seven of their previous eight games, took control in the second half and never looked back. New York fell behind by two in the third quarter, but Chandler scored eight straight points - including a three-pointer and three free throws as part of a 15-2 run that put the Knicks on top 73-62.
The Celtics pulled to within five late in the fourth, as Paul Pierce buried a three-pointer off an inbounds pass to cut the deficit to 91-86, but Chris Duhon found David Lee cutting to the basket for an emphatic dunk and the Knicks piled on from there. While Boston are in a slump, last year's beaten finalists had no such problems as the Los Angeles Lakers won their sixth straight game with a 100-86 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Kobe Bryant poured in 26 points and Pau Gasol scored 19 as Los Angeles claimed their 15th consecutive home win. Anthony Parker scored 26 points to give the short-handed Toronto Raptors a 108-102 victory over the Orlando Magic. In other games last night, Allen Iverson finished with 18 points and drew a goaltending call in the closing seconds as the Detroit Pistons held on for an 88-87 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 17-game losing streak against the Dallas Mavericks, riding a fourth-quarter surge to a 102-82 triumph.
* With Agencies