NEW ORLEANS (AP)—LeBron James scored 44 points, igniting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit in a 109-108 overtime defeat of the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.
Drew Gooden, who hadn’t scored since the first quarter, clinched the victory with a three-point play after he rebounded James’ miss and scored as he was fouled with 6.4 seconds left in the extra period.
Dan Dickau’s driving floater that could have won the game for New Orleans in the final seconds bounced wide off the glass, and Gooden grabbed the rebound and hurled it toward the rafters as the buzzer sounded, ending Cleveland’s 11-game road losing streak and two-game skid overall.
With the Cavaliers trailing 84-67 early in the fourth quarter, James initiated a huge momentum swing when he took the ball down court with an angry look on his face and quickly drilled a jumper from just inside the 3-point line. That was the first of 14 points James would score during a 25-7 Cleveland run that vaulted the Cavaliers into the lead.
With 17 points in the quarter, James hit on drives, jumpers, and four free throws. It was contagious. The Cavs hit their first 11 field goals and first 10 free throws of the quarter. Sasha Pavlovic added a baseline jumper and three 3-pointers during the run, his last giving Cleveland a 92-91 lead with 4:41 to go. James followed with a 3 and a driving score as Cleveland built a 97-91 lead before New Orleans clawed back in a wild finish that included two turnovers in the last 15 seconds.
James then missed one of two free throws with 8.3 seconds left in regulation, allowing New Orleans to tie on Boston Nachbar’s short fade with 2.4 seconds left .
Pavlovic scored 13 for Cleveland, all during the fourth-quarter comeback. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 14 points, while Robert Traylor added 12 and Gooden finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Cavs improved to 36-32, giving them one more victory than they had all last season.
J.R. Smith led New Orleans with 22 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Smith’s last 3 gave the Hornets a 106-103 lead in overtime, but James responded with a 3 of his own to tie it.
P.J. Brown, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, hit a jumper with 24 seconds left in overtime before Gooden’s game-winner.
Leading 53-42 at halftime, the Hornets hit all 11 of their free throws in the third quarter and pulled further away with acrobatic driving layups and a
Hornets reserve guard Speedy Claxton had to leave the game briefly after he was hit in the face and started bleeding from his lower lip. … Cleveland is 5-8 this month. … Cleveland has beaten New Orleans in five straight meetings. … James’ missed 3 with 1:52 left in the fourth period was Cleveland’s first missed field goal of the quarter. .. Traylor came in averaging 4.9 points but scored 10 points in his first 10 minutes off the bench against his former team.