Coming off perhaps their most impressive win of the season, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to eclipse last season’s road win total when they visit the Arena in Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors.
On Tuesday night, the Cavs were powered by James’ near triple-double in a 104-96 victory over Seattle at KeyArena. The team finished the 2002-03 season 3-38 away from home; Tuesday’s win improved its current road mark to 3-18.
However, last year’s team got off to a 3-17 start on the road before losing its final 21 games outside of Cleveland, a streak that carried over to this season when they dropped their first 13 away from Gund Arena.
James scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and finished with nine rebounds and nine assists, but it was Cleveland’s overall play that powered it to victory—and showed that it could be a force to be reckoned with if it continues to jell.
“We got a lot of production from a lot of people,” coach Paul Silas said.
Cleveland’s fourth-quarter surge was highlighted by a 10-0 run and key defensive stops by Darius Miles, who helped limit Sonics guard Ray Allen to five points in the final period and made a crucial block against Vladimir Radmanovic to end a potential Seattle comeback.
“I really appreciated that fourth quarter,” said Miles, who blocked three shots in the last quarter. “We didn’t have any veterans in. It was all young guys, and we really stepped up big. We just played hard and tried to stay positive.”
The Cavs will look to take that momentum into Oakland as they play their fifth of a season-high six straight road games. Judging from the recent play of the Warriors, Cleveland is ripe for road win No. 4.
With Tuesday night’s loss at Utah, Golden State has dropped nine of its last 10 games and looked weary against the Jazz. The defeat came a day after an exhausting double-overtime loss to Memphis, which followed an overtime win against Seattle.
“Maybe guys were tired. Maybe the guys were emotionally drained. I don’t know,” said, Clifford Robinson, who led the Warriors with 23 points. “The time for looking for excuses is over. We’ve got to play.”
STANDINGS (through Jan. 13): Cavaliers - 6th place (tied), 15 1/2 GB, Central Division. Warriors - 6th place, 12 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Cavaliers - F Carlos Boozer, F Eric Williams, C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, G Dajuan Wagner, G James. Warriors - F Mike Dunleavy, F Robinson, C Erick Dampier, G Nick Van Exel, G Jason Richardson.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - James, 19.9 ppg and 6.3 apg; Boozer, 10.2 rpg. Warriors - Richardson, 18.2 ppg; Dampier, 11.1 rpg; Van Exel, 5.9 apg.
SEASON SERIES: First meeting.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 16, 2003; Warriors, 108-80. At Oakland, the game was dominated by players who have since moved on to other teams. Antawn Jamison, now with the Mavericks, had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Gilbert Arenas, now with the Wizards, added 14 points and 11 assists for Golden State. Ricky Davis—since traded to the Celtics—led the Cavs with 21 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 3-18 on the road; Warriors - 11-7 at home.