With James out, Cavs win sixth in a row
CLEVELAND – Maybe LeBron James should take a night off more often.
Sasha Pavlovic scored a career-high 25 points and Larry Hughes added 25 to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a season-high sixth straight victory, 124-100 over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
James was a late scratch from the lineup because of back spasms. The Cavaliers are 3-0 this season without their superstar and 9-2 since he joined the team in 2003-04.
All five starters scored in double figures as the Cavaliers tied a season high for points. They shot 54 percent and easily handled the lackluster Kings, who have lost three straight.
Ron Artest, who missed two games last week following his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, led the Kings with 19 points in his second game back.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 19 points with 10 rebounds and tied a career high with seven assists.
Tied at 51 at halftime, the Cavaliers outhustled the Kings and went on a 24-5 run to open the third quarter.
Pavlovic capped the run by tracking down a loose ball past halfcourt, beating a jogging Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who was looking the other way. He fouled Pavlovic, who hit two free throws to make it 75-56 with 6:07 left.
Pavlovic scored on an array of dunks, drives and off-the-glass jump shots, putting on the show that James typically provides.
He ended the pivotal third period with a reverse dunk on an alley-oop from Hughes. Pavlovic, who tied a career high with six assists, scored 18 points in the quarter and fans gave him a standing ovation as he headed to the bench.
James felt something in his back Monday night and then again after the Cavs’ shootaround Tuesday. He was to travel with the team to Memphis on Wednesday and be re-evaluated.
Little-used backup Ira Newble started in James’ place and scored a season-high 12 points. His previous high was three points in a win Saturday at Milwaukee.
James has led the Cavaliers’ recent surge, averaging an NBA-best 33.3 points on 53 percent shooting since Feb. 15.
But without James even sitting on the bench, the Cavaliers improved to a season-best 14 games over .500.
Notes: Rookie G Daniel Gibson, who has missed five games with a toe sprain, was expected to practice Friday. With the Cavaliers playing well with Hughes at point guard, coach Mike Brown said he’d wait to determine how he uses Gibson. … The Cavaliers had lost five straight at home against the Kings. … Former Giants running back Tiki Barber sat courtside.