James, Williams lead Cavaliers over Mavs 111-95
Williams just wants a taste now and then. He got some Saturday night.
Williams made all seven of his 3-point attempts and scored 25 points, James added 25 with 12 assists and the Cleveland Cavaliers rebounded from a lackluster loss in Charlotte by beating the road-tested Dallas Mavericks 111-95.
One night after misfiring on six 3s, Williams was perfect.
“That last couple games I think I was 2-for-15,” Williams said. “I made the first couple and it felt pretty good. I never feel uncomfortable from behind the line and tonight was one of those nights.”
Anderson Varejao(notes) scored 15—13 in the second half—on 7-of-7 shooting for the Cavs, who were beaten 94-87 by the Bobcats on Friday in O’Neal’s return after missing six games with a shoulder injury. Cleveland also got a huge boost from troubled guard Delonte West(notes).
West, who played just over two minutes on Friday and has been ineffective recently while dealing with personal and health issues, added 10 points and 10 rebounds in a season-high 29 minutes.
“He was awesome,” James said of West. “Delonte is one of those guys who can not play for seven or eight straight games, come back in and it looks like he never missed a beat. I don’t know how he does it. We have certain guys in this league who can do that, and he’s one of them.”
“That’s what lost us the game,” Nowitzki said. “We scored almost 100, which is enough sometimes to win on the road, but we couldn’t get any stops. We gave up too many layups. Once you get all layups, everybody starts feeling good about themselves.
“The basket gets bigger. Mo Williams was on fire. Varejao didn’t even miss one.”
O’Neal was back in the Cavs’ lineup on Friday, but Shaq’s comeback only bogged down Cleveland’s offense, which was out of sync and struggled while trying to incorporate him back into the flow. O’Neal scored only 9 points in 25 minutes but his presence alone bothered the undersized Mavericks, who were without Josh Howard(notes) and Erick Dampier(notes).
Cleveland ran many of its offensive sets through O’Neal, who drew double-teams and kicked the ball to the perimeter. The Cavs’ ball movement was crisp and they knocked down their 3s, making 9 of 13 attempts one night after going just 6-of-21 from long range.
Williams was 2-of-8 on 3s in Charlotte, but back on his home floor, Cleveland’s guard barely rippled the nets while bombarding the Mavericks.
Although an All-Star, Williams is sometimes overlooked because of James and O’Neal. He has no problem being third class.
“I like being under the radar,” he said. “I like being the silent assassin. I don’t need all the pub(licity).”
Williams hit five 3s in the first half, when the Cavaliers’ offense ran as smoothly as it has at any point this season—by far. Cleveland was 7-for-8 from long range, shot 68 percent from the field, posted a season-high for points (68) in a half and handed out 23 assists—9 more than the Cavaliers had in 48 minutes on Friday—on 26 baskets.
But despite the offensive efficiency, the Cavs didn’t put the Mavericks away until late in the fourth quarter. Leading by 11, James scored on an alley-oop off an inbound pass, Williams hit a jumper and James scored on a drive as Cleveland opened a 106-88 lead with 4:08 left.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was upset with his team’s effort coming off impressive road wins.
“I love the way we played in Houston and Indiana, but this was a stinker,” Carlisle said. “We needed to be better defensively, simple as that.”
NOTES: James had eight assists in the first quarter and 11 by halftime. … James or Kobe Bryant(notes)? Carlisle wouldn’t want to make the choice. “I might flip a coin,” he said. “They’re both great. Right now in this league they’re the best of the best. They both not only are great players, they both have great charisma and they both represent out league extremely well. I’d gladly take a blindfold and pick a name and I’d be happy.” … Dallas has lost four straight to Cleveland. … Dallas’ 24 rebounds matched a franchise low.