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News » Sixers fall to James and Cavaliers

Sixers fall to James and Cavaliers

Sixers fall to James and Cavaliers CLEVELAND - A few minutes into last night's game, LeBron James looked at the Cleveland Cavaliers' bench, his smile wider than the gaps in the 76ers' defense.

An hour later, James was shaking his head, frustrated, his team trailing by a handful of buckets.

It was at this frustrated moment, near the end of the third quarter, that you knew that regardless of the outcome, the Sixers would consider this a productive trip to Cleveland.

The only question was whether it would be a winning trip.

It wasn't.

At a sold-out Quicken Loans Arena, the Sixers were a team they hadn't been this season - competitive against the NBA's best. But it wasn't enough as they lost, 97-91, to the Cavaliers, who were without Shaquille O'Neal for the fifth game in a row. He was out with a shoulder injury.

The Sixers dropped to 5-8. Cleveland improved to 10-4.

A night after a miserable home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and only 24 hours after their coach, Eddie Jordan, questioned their camaraderie and teamwork, the Sixers were a few punches from knocking out a powerhouse.

"It was very important for me to see they accepted the challenge and did all the right things," Jordan said. "Except win the game."

In the locker room afterward, Jordan's players seemed less enthusiastic about the near-victory.

When asked whether it was at least a small move forward - especially considering the previous night's embarrassment - power forward Elton Brand hemmed and hawed.

"Um, yeah, but we're in need of victories, so we're not going to take any moral victories out of the game," said Brand, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds. "But being up six, we know we can compete. We just have to get over that hump, and that's what we're going to work on."

Winning the game, that's what remained elusive.

From the opening tip, the Cavaliers looked relaxed and ready to entertain the crowd.

Midway through the first quarter, when James delivered his wide grin, the Cavaliers were dancing around the Sixers , leading by 20-4.

At the end of the quarter, in which the Cavaliers connected on two crowd-raising alley-oops and five three-pointers, the lead was 36-23.

James, who finished with 32 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds, appeared unconcerned about the possibility of losing.

Cleveland drove through, shot over, and passed around the Sixers' weak first-quarter defense.

But as dominating as those first few minutes were, they didn't continue.

The Sixers began making shots; the Cavaliers began missing. And the Sixers began playing defense.

By halftime, the Cavaliers' lead was 54-51. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Sixers were ahead, 81-75.

As the clock ticked down, James shifted to point-forward.

All eyes - included the Sixers' - followed his every move. He dished the ball for a couple of easy buckets and drove to the rim for one of his own.

The Sixers did what they could, trailing by only 93-89 with 3 minutes, 6 seconds remaining, but you knew James already had decided the outcome.

Sixers point guard Lou Williams finished with 22 points, and small forward Thaddeus Young with 21.

"I think we played at a higher level," Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala said. "And that's something that we do sometimes - play to the level of our competition. And we raised our level of play tonight, had them against the ropes."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 23, 2009


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