Cleveland (23-34) at Houston (32-24)

  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Wed Feb 25, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a rough start to the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are gaining some confidence. Coach Paul Silas couldn’t be happier with the way his team has come together.

“I’ve never been around a group that has jelled,” Silas said. “This was sweet. We want to keep this thing going.”

The Cavs, who lost 19 of their first 25 games, have won three straight to move into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are just 1 1/2 games behind Miami for the final playoff spot.

LeBron James scored 21 points Monday, and fellow rookie Jason Kapono added 19 to help the Cavs rally from a 25-point deficit to beat New Orleans 104-100.

“This is sweet,” said Cleveland guard Jeff McInnis, who had 14 points and nine assists. “I’ve never come back from so far down before.”

Kapono, who did not play in Sunday’s 92-86 win over the New York Knicks, made all five of his 3-point attempts. The second-round pick from UCLA also had five rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes. He had played just 19 minutes in Cleveland’s previous five games.

“I’m not the most talented guy in here,” Kapono said. “I’m probably No. 14 on the roster, but I can play a little.”

Houston had won three of four before falling to defending champion San Antonio 86-77 on Tuesday.

Yao Ming, coming off a career-high 41 points Sunday in a triple-overtime win over Atlanta, led the Rockets with 20 points. All-Star guard Steve Francis added 16.

But coach Jeff Van Gundy said his team lost steam in the second half and had a hard time with San Antonio’s defense. The Rockets made just two field goals in the fourth quarter, including two after both coaches emptied their benches.

“Just no quality shots,” he said. “They beat us on the boards and to every loose ball. … We have to learn to be intense and remain poised.”

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