CLEVELAND: LeBron Jamesí runner in the lane with one second left allowed the Cavaliers to hold on for a 90-88 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
James and Kevin Love each scored 26 points and the Cavs remained unbeaten at home (9-0), but it didnít come easily against a struggling Nets team.
Jarrett Jackís desperation heave at the buzzer from well beyond half court hit the back of the rim. Brook Lopez scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Joe Johnson had 17 points for the Nets, who have lost four of their last five.
J.R. Smith fouled Joe Johnson on a 3-pointer with 15.2 seconds left, allowing the Nets to tie the game at 88. Smith picked up Johnson on each of the Netsí last two possessions. Johnsonís potential look at a game-winner rimmed out with 18 seconds left.
James made two free throws at the other end for a three-point lead, but Johnson shook Smith on the Netsí ensuing inbounds following a timeout. Smith ran into Johnson on a 3-point shot and Johnson made all three attempts.
James took the inbounds pass, dribbled the clock down and drove the lane before floating up the winner.
Johnsonís earlier 3-pointer gave the Nets an 83-76 lead, but the Nets went scoreless for 3Ĺ minutes while the Cavs fought back. Smithís pesky defense forced a block and then drew an offensive foul on Johnson. After a 3-pointer by James and then a three-point play by him, Tristan Thompsonís basket inside gave the Cavs an 84-83 lead with 2:44 to play.
The Cavs were playing their third game in four nights while the Nets were off the last two days.
James and Love combined to shoot just 2-of-7 in the first quarter and the Cavs ended the quarter shooting just 32 percent. Lopez punished the Cavsí interior defense and the Nets got whatever they wanted early, leading by as many as 12 in the first half while the Cavs struggled to find their legs.
The Cavs didnít take their first lead until a 3-pointer by Love with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
The Nets have played better of late after a dismal 0-7 start, but coach Lionel Hollins knows heís still undermanned on many nights. This was one of them.
ďI donít try to analyze everything,Ē Hollins said. ďI see it and I know what it is but what good does it do for me to stay up all night analyzing and trying to figure out how to make it different when we donít have Kevin Durant, we donít have [Russell] Westbrook, we donít have LeBron James?
ďWe are who we are and if we go out and play together as a team and work as a group and try to be disciplined in what weíre doing we give ourselves a chance to win and thatís all you can do. If youíre not good enough to win those games because of the other teamís talent, you still have done all that you can do and you just go home and go to bed.Ē
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.