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LeBron Helps Cavs Defeat Lakers 114-108

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AP
While LeBron James and Kobe Bryant provided the kind of entertainment expected from two of the NBA's best players, the fans left Staples Center in a foul mood.

James scored 38 points, six teammates reached double figures, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Los Angeles 114-108 Thursday night to extend the Lakers' losing streak to five games, matching the longest of coach Phil Jackson's career.

It was also the Lakers' fourth consecutive loss at home.

The game was often painful to watch because 61 personal fouls and four technicals were called, and the teams combined to shoot 97 free throws, 55 by the Cavaliers.

"It was a forever game _ the missed plays, the missed calls ... it just goes on and on," Jackson said.

The final game before the All-Star break lasted 2 hours, 52 minutes.

Jackson-coached teams have lost five straight games only three times. His teams are 907-377 in 16 seasons and have won nine championships _ six in Chicago and three in Los Angeles.

The Lakers (30-24) have lost 11 of their last 15 games.

"I think I saw players that had quit in their eyes tonight, and that bothered me," Jackson said.

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Houston Rockets 80-77 in the only other NBA game played Thursday night.

James bounced back from two mediocre games, shooting 10-of-16 from the floor and 18-of-22 from the foul line to lead the Cavaliers to their first victory over the Lakers at Staples Center following seven losses.

In his previous two games, he made 14 of 41 field goal attempts and 13 of 21 free throws.

"Every player in this league has those types of stretches," James said. "I don't let a few games irritate my game or stop me from taking a lot of shots. I'm a career 48 percent shooter from the field.

"I just wanted to be aggressive. I came out with energy and my team fed off that."

The win was the fourth in five games for the Cavaliers (31-22), who enter the All-Star break with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland won the game at the foul line, converting 41 of its 55 attempts while the Lakers were 21-of-29.

"LeBron attacked tonight," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "When he attacks like this, he's very hard to guard. He didn't waste any dribbles, he didn't waste any movement. Everything he did was with a purpose."

Anderson Varejao, filling in at center for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, added 15 points and 11 rebounds, Larry Hughes scored 14, and Eric Snow had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points, six rebounds and five assists. Lamar Odom had 20 points and eight rebounds and Sasha Vujacic scored 14 for Los Angeles.

"You're not stopping Kobe," Brown said. "You just hope he has to work for his shots, and our guys tried as hard as they could to make him work to take difficult shots.

"He's a great player. Whether he's mad or happy or sad, I'm still scared of Kobe Bryant. It doesn't matter what kind of mood he's in."

The game was the second between the teams in a five-day span. Bryant outscored James 36-18 last Sunday, but the Cavaliers rallied for a 99-90 victory in the finale of the Lakers' eight-game road trip.

Bryant and James will be on opposite sides again Sunday, when Bryant starts for the Western Conference and James for the East in the All-Star game.

Bryant praised James' effort, saying: "He did a great job of controlling the tempo and his players stepped up and made big plays plays down the stretch, which is what you have to have happen."

James' baseline jumper over Bryant with 3:05 remaining gave Cleveland a 102-101 lead, and a 3-pointer by Sasha Pavlovic 31 seconds later put the Cavaliers ahead by four.

A 3-pointer by Bryant moved the Lakers within one. James made a foul shot with 20 seconds remaining before missing the second, but Varejao got the rebound, The Lakers finaly fouled James again with 11.7 seconds to play, and he made two free throws.

Bryant missed another 3-pointer and Varejao made two free throws to complete the scoring.

Mavericks 80, Rockets 77

Jason Terry hit a go-ahead jumper with 1:09 remaining and made two free throws in the final seconds at Houston as the Mavericks extended their winning streak to nine.

Luther Head attempted a shot in the lane with about six seconds left that could have put the Rockets ahead, but he missed. The Rockets were forced to foul Terry with 4.2 seconds to play, and he made both shots.

Terry also made a pair of free throws just seconds before his jumper.

Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points and Jerry Stackhouse scored 17 for the Mavericks.

Tracy McGrady scored 27 points to lead Houston and Juwan Howard added 14.