If LeBron James continues to excel in the fourth quarter, his team won’t be spending much more time under .500.
James, whose recent late-game heroics have provided a spark, looks to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers over .500 for the first time in his young career in a matchup with the struggling Golden State Warriors.
Cleveland has won three straight following an 0-3 start, outscoring opponents 83-38 in the fourth quarter during its run. James has accounted for 37 percent of the Cavaliers’ points in the fourth quarter this season.
For the first time as a pro, James is on a .500 team. He expects the Cavaliers to be much better than that, though.
“We’re just getting started,” James said. “We’re getting better every game.”
James has been raising his game lately when the Cavaliers need him most. He scored nine of Cleveland’s first 11 points in the fourth Saturday, taking over just as he did Wednesday when he outscored Phoenix 17-14 in the final 12 minutes and the Cavs overcame a 19-point deficit to win in overtime.
“He’s the best,” Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. “He’s unbelievable. He wants the ball and he wants the responsibility. Everything we need, he provides. He’s so special.”
James added nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in 38 minutes Saturday. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year has scored more than 20 points in all six games this season.
The Warriors staved off the worst start in franchise history Saturday with an easy 103-87 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
First-year coach Mike Montgomery opened his NBA career with six consecutive losses, putting the Warriors in danger of besting the franchise futility mark set at the start of the 1997-98 season by opening 0-9.
Troy Murphy, who was shooting 32 percent prior to Saturday, made 9 of 13 shots and had 22 points and 16 rebounds. It was the second straight double-double for Murphy.
Jason Richardson led the Warriors with 27 points after scoring a season-low five in his previous game.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 13): Warriors - 5th place, 3 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Cavaliers - 3rd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Warriors - Richardson, 15.6 ppg; Murphy, 9.0 rpg; Fisher, 4.6 apg. Cavaliers - James, 27.8 ppg and 6.0 apg; Gooden, 9.8 rpg.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Warriors, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: April 3; Warriors, 103-100. At Cleveland, Dunleavy had 23 points and Murphy added 18 to lead Golden State.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Warriors - 1-3 on the road; Cavaliers - 2-1 at home.