LeBron answers Wizards

CLEVELAND --- Round 1 went to LeBron.


Determined to make the Wizards swallow their words, LeBron James scored 32 points, making two tough shots in traffic down the stretch as the Cleveland Cavaliers opened the NBA playoffs with an intense 93-86 win over Washington on Saturday.

Called "overrated" by Washington's DeShawn Stevenson in the final weeks of the season, James scored 20 points in the second half to lead the defending Eastern Conference champions, who took a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series that appears to have a long way to go.

Game 2 is Monday night.

James sat out the early part of the fourth quarter to rest a troublesome back. But once he returned to the floor, the superstar forward came through.

With the score tied at 84, James knifed his way down the lane and hit a layup between Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood with 1:37 remaining. Following a miss by Gilbert Arenas, James powered past Stevenson and dropped a floater with 55 seconds left in the game -- and one tick to spare on the 24-second shot clock.

The Wizards never recovered and couldn't come up with the big shot and scored just two points in the final 4:39.

Arenas scored 24 points in 27 minutes before fouling out with 13 seconds to go.


In New Orleans, so much for playoff experience.

Chris Paul had 35 points and 10 assists in his first career playoff game, lifting New Orleans to a come-from-behind victory over Dallas.

David West, in his first playoff game since he was a rookie reserve, scored 23 points, and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 15 rebounds to help New Orleans storm back from a 12-point halftime deficit and win going away.

Dirk Nowitzki had his way with New Orleans early and finished with 31 points, but scored only four during Dallas' fourth-quarter collapse.

Josh Howard added 17 points for the Mavericks, a team that hasn't missed the playoffs in eight seasons and was in the finals two years ago.

Jason Kidd, the All-Star point guard the Mavericks were hoping would be the missing piece to a championship run when they traded for him midseason, finished with 11 points and nine assists.



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